“Freedom cannot be achieved unless women have been emancipated from all forms of oppression.”- Nelson Mandela
Historically and culturally, women’s voices have been muted. In many societies women are discriminated against and misogyny goes unchecked. It is for this very reason that we applaud those visionaries behind International Women’s Day, who have seen it fitting to create such a platform to advocate for women’s rights.
It has been more than two decades since the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, yet gender equality for women continues to be elusive. The truth is, some women are better off on the continuum towards gender equality than are other women. According to the United Nations Human Development Index (HDI), women in Europe, Canada, the United States of America and the Scandinavian countries have progressed much further than women in the Arab and African societies, where women’s rights are seen as a threat to the power that men wield in such societies. This power is rooted in the ideology of patriarchy. Patriarchy is everywhere and women must continue to struggle to break down these barriers which prevent many women from achieving their full potential.
Disturbingly, there are some religions which do not give a voice to women, and women are viewed as second hand citizens. Is there a need for more women to enter representational politics? It is only through the legislative framework that real changes will be derived. According to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal #5, the world has achieved progress towards gender equality and women’s empowerment but women and girls continue to suffer discrimination and violence in every part of the world.
Issues such as such intimate partner violence, female genital mutilation and child marriages are a clear and present danger to gender equality and the empowerment of women. Every woman and girl has a right to feel safe in their home, on the street, on public transportation, in the supermarket, workplace, library and everywhere.
On this second Sunday in March, women in many countries are free to march, celebrate, and organize events to mark this important day. Unfortunately, in other countries, not even the right to march is afforded to women. According to the United Nations Women, the theme this year for International Women’s Day is, I Am Generation Equality: Realizing Women’s Rights. The Generation Equality campaign is bringing together people of every gender, age, ethnicity, race, religion and country, to drive actions that will create the gender-equal world we all deserve. Sadly, entire generations of women have not known what gender equality is.
Men cannot live and operate in isolation; we are all parts of a whole. Our individual actions, conversations, behaviours and thoughts can and do have an impact on our larger society. Collectively, we can make change happen. Together, we can each help to create a gender equal world.
Undoubtedly, the international community should support this worthy ideal of I Am Generation Equality. Gender equality is not only for women; gender equality also benefits the wider society and aids in sustainable development. In spite of our age, country or background, the fight for equal rights should be guaranteed to all citizens regardless of one’s gender. Irrespective of where we live, our economic or educational backgrounds, or gender, the fight for equal rights should be a collective effort across geographical boundaries.
Particularly on International Women’s Day, we should strive to, among other things, challenge gender norms. We must work towards empowering each other. We must celebrate diversity, mobilize, and advocate for those women whose voices are muted. An equal world is a progressive world.
As we commemorate another International Women’s Day, why not challenge yourself to do all that is possible to make your space one in which women’s voices and opinions are free to coexist without any form of discrimination? Which side of history do you wish to find yourself? Will you be with those who continue to erect barriers to prevent gender equality or will you be sided with those whose advocacy empower and enhance gender equality?
In the words of Michelle Bachelet, gender equality will only be reached if we are able to empower women.
#GenerationEquality #InternationalWomensDay, #EachforEqual #Jamaica #IWD2020 #misogyny #SDG5
Wayne Campbell is an educator and social commentator with an interest in development policies as they affect culture and or gender issues.
Follow my blog at waykam.wordpress.com