photo Pauline MusokeLet’s recognize women’s achievements while aiming for greater gender equality

Today, March 8, is International Women’s Day. For more than 40 years, we have observed this day to celebrate and honour courageous women and girls all around the world for their economic, political and social achievements. It’s a day to recognize their contributions to their countries, their communities and the world.

At the same time it reminds us that we are still a long way from achieving gender equality. Consider the facts:

  • Women hold only 22% of national parliamentarian positions.
  • The percentage of women in senior management positions still hovers around 20% (this hasn’t changed much since 2004).
  • Women are disproportionately affected by violence. 1 in 3 women still experience physical or sexual violence, usually by an intimate partner.
  • Women around the world are still subjected to harmful traditional practices such as child marriage and female genital mutilation. More than 700 million women alive today, were married before their 18th One in three (approximately 250 million) entered into union before age 15.

Gender equality is vital for progress, to reduce poverty, to achieve sustainability and to realize human rights. However, the World Economic Forum has estimated that we will take until 2095 to achieve global gender parity. We can accelerate this change if we make gender equality a priority.

To achieve gender equality, we need to promote young women’s leadership. Young women and girls are not only leaders of the future; they are leading today. We need to transform power structures so that women, young women and girls are among the leaders making key decisions in the most important international, national and local fora. We need to be inclusive so we are listening to the voices of all women, regardless of their age, faith, socio-economic status or sexual orientation.

On International Women’s Day, we call on men and women globally to recognize the women, young women and girls in their lives who are making a difference in their communities. Let’s take this opportunity to appreciate all the millions of women who work tirelessly behind the scenes to improve the lives of others, but rarely receive any acknowledgement for their work.

t the same time, we call on government, business and community leaders to make space for women, young women and girls in decision making roles and platforms. We call on these leaders to listen to women’s voices and ensure their contributions are equally valued. We ask them to protect and uphold women’s rights, so that we can accelerate gender equality.

In addition, we call on young women, women and girls to make their voices heard on key points that impact their lives and their rights. We call on them to rise up and take leadership on important decision-making issues regarding age, education, timing of marriage and births, and use of contraception. We call on them to demand an end to violence and harmful practices such as female genital mutilation.

The World YWCA is stepping up its own efforts to achieve gender equality with a goal to have 100 million women young women and girls transforming power structures to create justice, gender equality and a world without violence and war by 2035.

Gender equality is essential to achieving a more sustainable world where opportunities, rights and responsibilities are the same for all of us.

Reduce poverty and achieve sustainability by calling for gender equality:

#IWD2016

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