The rights of girls and women all over the world are violated every day. For years, female genital mutilation, an inhumane practice that violates the rights of most children and has no health benefits, has persisted. It is still occurring in 30 African countries and a handful of countries in the Middle East and Asia (“Female”). In Kenya the practice is still prevalent as 27% of women aged 15 – 49 years have undergone FGM (“Female”).
Around the world 61 million girls remain out of primary and lower- secondary school (Girl’s education”). In Kenya only 42% of girls are enrolled in lower-secondary school and in the north east 55% of girls living in poverty have never been to any form of school (“United”). Education is more than just literacy – it’s the key to economic success and healthier lives. Educated girls grow up to be educated women who are more likely to be healthy and economically secure compared to uneducated girls. Not only that, but educated girls grow up to be educated mothers who are more likely to invest in their children’s education, more likely to be and have healthy children, and more likely to be able to financially support their children (“Factsheet”).
Global averages show women account for less than 22% of parliaments. Statistics show women do nearly 2 ½ times more unpaid and domestic work than men, yet are less likely to receive a pension (Sifferlin). Women still earn 24% less than what a man earns, and only 50% of women at working wage are in the labor force compared to 77% of men (“Infographics”).
In summation girls and women across the world are not receiving the health, education, and representation that they deserve. We as a global community have a lot of work to do to make our dreams a reality.
How do we do it though? What are our next steps?
While there are hundreds of actions a person can take to help work toward equality, several overarching actions, have been globally targeted by international organizations like the UN and the World Bank. These actions call the world to elect more women to office, to grant women the property rights they deserve, to placing education before child marriage, to stand up against violence, and to fight for equal pay for equal work.
To make these goals become realities the international community, the governments, the private sectors, and civil society groups must all work together. Tactics like campaigning, petitioning, rallying, micro funding, and are great ways to become involved and stay involved in the global equality conversation.
When women succeed, everyone from the family, to the community, to the country succeeds.
No matter what though we must continue to campaign for women, we must stand up against outdated cultural norms, and we must provide one another with emotional and intellectual support. March 8th honored the women who first paved the road towards equality for us: the entrepreneurs, the scientists, the artists, the doctors, the writers, the politicians, the activists, and countless others. We will remember them, we will admire them, and we will strive to be more like them.
The importance of women cannot be understated, and now more than ever must we join together as champions for one another. On March 8th we celebrated, and we declared what we can do to make a difference in our communities, and then, we shall act. We will hashtag, we will rally, we will write and share our opinions, we will contact our representatives, we will engage one another in honest conversations to tackle the stigmas, barriers, and emotions that gender inequality has burdened us with.
So join us and women around the world to speak out, celebrate, and support one another. Use the hashtag #BeBoldForChange on your social media platforms like twitter, facebook, and Instagram. Together, we can achieve a gender inclusive world.
For more information and ways to get involved check out the links below, including the link to the official website for International Women’s Day.
Written by Mikayla Pellerin
“Factsheet Girl’s Education and Gender Equality.”Global Partnership for Girls Education . N.p., 2016. Web. 7 Mar. 2017.
“Female genital mutilation.” World Health Organization. World Health Organization, Feb. 2017. Web. 07 Mar. 2017.
“Girls’ education and gender equality.” Global Partnership for Education. N.p., 2016. Web. 07 Mar. 2017.
“Infographics.” Global Gender Gap Report 2016. N.p., 2016. Web. 07 Mar. 2017
Sifferlin, Alexandra. “U.N. Women Report: Women Still Lag Behind on Wages and Careers.” Time. Time, 27 Apr. 2015. Web. 07 Mar. 2017.
“UNITED NATIONS GIRLS EDUCATION INITIATIVE” UNGEI. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Mar. 2017