Today we celebrate the women who fought for the causes, rights and freedoms we have and in some cases take for granted. We thank them every year for their courage and persistence and recognise how far we have come, and the momentum we need to continue to build on.
There is still so much to do
Today women should have the right to live free from violence and harm, but still a rural girl is twice as likely to be married as a child than her urban counterpart in parts of the world.
Women across the globe are not dying because of untreatable diseases, but often because societies are yet to make the decision that their lives are worth saving. We have not yet valued women’s lives and health highly enough. According to the World Health Organisation – still 1,0000 women die every day of the consequences of pregnancy and child birth.
Equality is a human right
There is still much to do for gender equality for women and girls everywhere - equality is a fundamental human right, it is a necessary foundation for a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable world.
As we think of where we are, what about the women who are bearing the brunt of displacement with their children and extended family. It is women who always have to take care of their children, parents and siblings.
The women of Syria, where the war has caused 7.6 million to be displaced (as at July 2017). This week we have even heard that the medical supplies were removed from the UN convoy before entering the besieged Syrian suburb of eastern Ghouta (UN Wire, 5th March 2018)
Ukraine, the fight for democracy - lack of food, medical supplies.
The civil war in Sudan and South Sudan where boys and girls are becoming child soldiers.
Yemen, where children are dying of starvation and illness and they have little access to aid.
Myanmar where the Rohingya refugees walking to Bangladesh ending up in camps - children of women and girls who are raped may not be able to return to Myanmar with them.
How do we ensure their voices are heard?
We have reached another critical turning point in history where women are standing up and speaking out, but we also need to ensure that when doing this we are thinking of ways to help women in areas where the media spot light is not always shone, and think about how we can used our own voices to lift those others up.
On International Women’s Day we must make a pledge to raise our voices to ensure women have a voice on all peace negotiations, education for their children, full medical services including maternal health, availability of medicines, and opportunities to start up SME’s and opportunity for re-training to broaden skillsets.