Every March 8, we celebrate the International Women’s Day. Individuals and organisations the world over hold celebrations in different ways- from marches to lectures- to observe the day set aside to celebrate women’s achievements and highlight gender equality.
Here are different ways to make the day count:
Listen to Women
There have been cases where women have been ignored when they are raising issues concerning their daily lives- struggles and achievements.
It has happened to Serena Williams when the medical team ignored her pleas to have an ultrasound because she was not feeling quite right after the birth of her baby.
It happens in the case of manels (all male panels), where women are not considered in contributing toward conversations around national issues, peace and conflict resolutions and even on boards.
It even happened when people took serious women’s conversation about period pains because a doctor said that it could be as bad as a heart attack (or even worse). Never mind that women have been saying this for years.
Listening to women’s voices and concerns about how discrimination and inequality affect them is important in addressing these issues and coming up with solutions that are not only effective but also gender-sensitive.
Get Data on Women
The world is becoming more data-focused, and strides have been made in creating data resources that expose the gender gap in almost all sectors of life. With adequate data (PDF) tracking and identifying gaps in gender equality will be easier and more effective.
The United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs created guidelines on collecting data on women and set up a programme to improve capacities of countries in collecting, disseminating and using reliable data and statistics to deal with gender inequality.
Closing the data gap will go a long way in not only improving but also protecting the lives of girls and women across the globe.
End Gender-based Violence (GBV)
According to UN Women, 70% of women worldwide have experienced either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or sexual violence by a partner at some point in their lives. Thirty-five percent have experienced this from a non-partner.
In Kenya, 38% of women aged 15-49 reported physical violence and 14% reported having experienced sexual violence, according to the Kenya Demographic and Health Survey 2014 (PDF).
Ending GBV requires a multi-thronged approach that includes changing attitudes towards women and GBV, working with communities to respond to GBV and engaging men and boys in breaking the cycle of GBV.
It also includes dealing with harmful traditions such as child marriages and female genital mutilation as well as creating safe spaces for women and girls to participate fully in education and other community development activities.
Women have come a long way in fighting or their rights and freedoms- and that’s enough reason to celebrate them. It is the main reason we have the International Women’s Day. However, we still have a long way to go to achieve gender equality and the day is ideal for raising awareness of the challenges and obstacles women experience today.
Importantly, achieving Gender equality and empowering women and girls is Goal 5 of the Sustainable Development Goals, let’s all strive to make it a reality