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We Need Bold Actions, Not Just Bold Words, If We Are To See Equality For Women And Girls

08/03/2017 08:09 GMT | Updated 31/03/2017 16:38 BST
PAUL ELLIS via Getty Images

all women everywhere

The slogan for this year's International Women's Day is 'Be Bold for Change'. In the face of immense challenges being faced by women around the world and the huge strides made towards gender equality under serious threat, the case for bold action cannot be understated.

The progress made in recent years on gender-based violence, reproductive rights, equal pay and women and girls empowerment is extremely welcome, however, there is still a long way to go in this fight.

The World Economic Forum predicts the gender gap won't close entirely until 2186. The idea that it will be during the lifetime of our great-children that true gender equality will be reached is one that should act as a call to arms. The war is not won - far from it.

130million girls from all over the world miss out on an education; the only reason being that they happened to be born female. The implications of this are twofold: a girl without an education will have less knowledge on family planning, reduced control over economic assets and is more likely to catch, and pass on to others, deadly diseases. The other implication of this inequity is on a macro level. Fundamentally, when 52% of the global population is less well educated than the other 48%, global progress is impeded.

The provision of education for girls should be seen as an investment: the transformative power of an education can lift a girl out of poverty and this, in turn, can lift her country out of poverty too. Ultimately, the case for reducing the gender gap is not only a moral one but also an economic one.

I am incredibly proud of some of the steps the UK government is taking in combatting these injustices. From the 0.7% of UK GNI administered in foreign aid, there is a heavy emphasis on funding projects that aim to advance the rights of women and girls. In an ever increasingly hostile climate, the defence of the UK's foreign aid budget is needed now, more than ever.

The contribution made by the UK's foreign aid budget go a long way towards achieving the UN's 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Some of these include an end to food poverty, climate change action and, most pertinently, an end to gender inequality.

Women's rights are human rights and I was pleased to see the UK Government finally ratify the Istanbul Convention. The convention is a historic international treaty that requires states to take comprehensive action, set out minimum standards and create legally binding measures to tackle and prevent violence against women and girls.

Even on these shores - the sixth wealthiest nation on earth - there are still significant injustices felt by women day in, day out. 86% of tax and social security savings to the Treasury have come from the pockets of women; the gender pay gap for all full-time and part-time male and female employees currently stands at 18% and after a life of hard work, raising families and paying taxes, millions of WASPI women have had their retirement plans shattered.

The millions of women - and men - who marched from all over the world to have their voices heard following the election of Donald Trump was a powerful and moving sight. The more often gender inequality is in the global discourse and the louder the calls for change become, the sooner those in power will have no choice but to take action

On 8 March, bold words but crucially even bolder actions are required to ensure the sacrifices made and wrongs suffered by women and girls all over the world are not in vain.

Kate Osamor is the shadow secretary for international development and Labour MP for Edmonton

HuffPost UK is running a month-long project in March called All Women Everywhere, providing a platform to reflect the diverse mix of female experience and voices in Britain today

Through blogs, features and video, we'll be exploring the issues facing women specific to their age, ethnicity, social status, sexuality and gender identity. If you'd like to blog on our platform around these topics, email ukblogteam@huffingtonpost.com