By Linda Naa Deide Aryeetey, GNA
Accra, March 8, GNA-Today, March 8 2020 is International Women’s Day (IWD) a day dedicated to the celebration of the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women across the globe
The day marks another time to reflect on progress made, to call for change and to celebrate acts of courage and determination by ordinary women, who have played extraordinary roles in the history of their countries and communities.
The first International Women’s Day occurred in 1911, supported by over one million people. Today, IWD belongs to all groups collectively everywhere. IWD is not country, group or organization specific.
The theme for the 2020 International Women’s Day campaign is ‘EachforEqual’, it highlights the fact that an equal world is an enabled world, while marking a call to action for accelerating gender equality.
Globally women earn 23% less than men, women occupy only 24% of parliamentary seats worldwide, one in three women experience physical or sexual violence and 200 million girls-women have suffered genital mutilation.
The United Nations (UN) Secretary-General António Guterres bemoaned that 25 years after the Beijing conference, progress on women’s rights has stalled and even reversed.
“Some countries have rolled back laws that protect women from violence; others are reducing civic space; still others are pursuing economic and immigration policies that indirectly discriminate against women”, he said, adding that “bias against gender equality is growing in some countries”.
“I am a proud feminist”, avowed the UN chief. “Only through the equal participation of women can we benefit from the intelligence, experience and insights of all of humanity”.
He spoke about unsung women heroes, such as American scientist Eunice Foote who proved that changes in carbon dioxide could affect the Earth’s temperature and Tu Youyou, who saved millions of lives around by turning traditional Chinese medicine for a cure for malaria.
“It is more important than ever for men to stand up for women’s right and gender equality,” he said.
In Ghana the Affirmative Action Bill which seeks a 50 /50 per cent representation and participation of both women and men in governance, public positions of power decision making spaces in the country is struggling to be passed into law.
Presently, the need for increased equitable female political participation in Ghana is a genuine concern to all key stakeholders dedicated to women’s right promotion.
The passage of the Affirmative Action Bill into law is very crucial to women’s participation because it is a measure that seeks to correct injustice and the exclusion of women over the years
United Nations Women’s Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka also said the review of women’s rights shows that despite some progress, no country has achieved gender equality.
Maintaining that “equality isn’t just one-quarter of the seats at the tables of power”, she said, however, that was “the current reality of women’s representation, across the board”.
Men hold 75 per cent of all parliamentary seats, 73 per cent of managerial positions, and 70 per cent of climate negotiators as well as most peacemaking roles.
“Only half is an equal share and only equal is enough”, stressed the UN Women chief.
She observed that over the past 20 years, progress on women’s access to paid work has grounded to a halt as they continue to shoulder the bulk of unpaid care and domestic work – less than two thirds between the ages of 25-54 are in the labour force.
Some 32 million girls are still not in school, men still control three-quarters of parliamentary seats, and women are largely excluded from peace processes.
This year according to Ms Mlambo-Ngcuka presents an unprecedented opportunity to turn things around for current and future generations of women and girls.
The Women’s Rights Report in Review also highlights advances since the Beijing Platform was adopted, namely more girls in school, fewer women dying in childbirth, more women in parliaments and a greater number of laws supporting women’s equality.
To step up systemic and lasting change, gender equality must be better financed to harness technology and innovation and ensure the inclusive development of women and girls who face multiple forms of discrimination.
Individually, we’re all responsible for our own thoughts and actions – all day, every day.
We can actively choose to challenge stereotypes, fight bias, broaden perceptions, improve situations and celebrate women’s achievements.
Collectively, each one of us can help create a gender equal world. Let’s all be #EachforEqual, let’s build a gender equal world because Equality is not a women’s issue, it’s a business issue.
We are all parts of a whole. Our individual actions, conversations, behaviors and mindsets can have an impact on our larger society.
Collectively, we can make change happen. Collectively, we can each help to create a gender equal world.