International Women’s Day marks a very special day in the lives of all women, it’s a day marked as a call to action for accelerating gender parity. International Women’s Day is celebrated to acknowledge the social, economic, cultural and political achievement of women across the universe.
It is celebrated to remind our cherished women to feel empowered, whiles it again informs men to stand up for the equality and freedom of women. Women have proven beyond reasonable doubt that they are fierce fighters, unfortunately they are still classified as the ‘weaker sex’ notwithstanding the milestones they have achieved over the years in all endeavours of life.
This year’s Celebration is under the theme: ‘Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world.’ It’s a day which seeks to highlight the many challenges brought by the COVID-19 global pandemic ravaging homes. This is an indication of the role women have played and continue to play in the fight against COVID-19. Women must be seen as partner in decision-making process at all levels of nation building, specially policy decisions that directly affects women and children.
Speaking about International Women’s Day 2021, UN Women Executive Director, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka said, “We need women’s representation that reflects all women and girls in all their diversity and abilities, and across all cultural, social, economic and political situations. This is the only way we will get real societal change that incorporates women in decision-making as equals and benefits us all.”
According to United Nations Development Programme, in 2021, around 435 million women and girls are living on less than $1.90 a day. Nearly 47 million women have been pushed to poverty because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The report also adds that women’s employment is at 19 percent more risk than men. That’s not all, as per World Economic Forum, while women make up 70 percent of health sector workers, only 24.7 percent of health ministers are female.
Women have been subjected to all forms of discrimination, sexual harassment, child marriage, gender-based violence, physical and emotional abuse, exploitation etc. Indeed, these acts amongst many other must stop to ensure freedom of women irrespective of their status. There is the need to create equal work opportunity for women as we strive to promote and attain SDG8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth).
Women continuously serve as primary caregivers most importantly for children and aging parents. They work to accommodate family needs, sometimes in unfavourable and hazardous work environments which exposes them to extreme danger and deteriorating health conditions.
Measures must be put in place to develop innovative solutions which can be harnessed to address societal needs. This will assure women of more control of their future and also to assist them advance quickly.
Massive support and social protection is required for women and girls. UNDP has called for investment in universal, gender-responsive social protection systems to support women’s income security. Also, there is a need for expanded access to affordable childcare services to enable women to remain and re-enter work.
International Women’s Day 2021 presents a unique opportunity which should serve as a catalyst for inspiration to collectively work towards reversal of long-standing inequalities. These include the likes of unequal division of work at home, gender pay gap, and unescapable undervaluation of work done by women.
Many women are leaving corporate life because their jobs just aren’t inspiring them anymore. This is a clear indication of the entrepreneurial nature of women that all stakeholders who wish to advance the course of women must be interested in.
In spite of all the advancement that has been made, much is needed to be done to achieve gender equality as we seek to attain SDG5. Advocating for the right and freedom of women inures to the benefit of humanity and firmly assures our collective sustenance.
Finding solution to challenges faced by women directly touches and addresses SDG1 (No Poverty), SDG2 (Zero Hunger), SDG3 (Good Health and Well-being), SDG4 (Quality Education), SDG5 (Gender Equality), SDG8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth) and SDG10 (Reduced Inequalities).
Issues of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) remains a major problem in Ghana and many parts of the world, more women and young girls find themselves either out of school or meaningful employment. This can be attributed to many reasons and prominent amongst them is poverty. There are varying impacts of SRHR as outlined below;
- Movement restrictions, lockdown and closure of schools increased teenage pregnancies and child marriage especially along the coastal/fishing and farming communities
- Increased household violence, verbal and physical assault especially on women and children
- Increased child labour due to loss of income and heightened financial insecurity
- The pandemic has seen girls become increasingly vulnerable to sexual exploitation, including transactional sex as a coping mechanism in the face of livelihood deterioration.
- Adverse effects on short and long-term maternal, infant, young child, and adolescent health and nutrition status due to unmet need for health treatment (ante/post-natal care), vaccinations, reproductive health and other critical services.
Advocacy on reproductive and healthcare education is urgently required most especially for vulnerable and marginalized groups. Family planning and Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) remains a setback, therefore, a lot of awareness is needed to introduce women to a more reliable, secure and accessible contraceptive.
Again, a lot more is needed in terms of policy direction to deal with child marriage and child labour concerns as financial susceptibility of women and girls continue to widen particularly in rural communities and settlements.
Extensive collaboration and partneship is needed for the sustainability transition and transformation agenda. Private sector participation is required through Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) interventions to address the challenges of women at all levels. Achieving gender parity positions the country for improved livelihood and accelerates the developmental agenda whiles we work towards attaining the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Let us be reminded of the IWD2021 campaign slogan: #ChooseToChallenge, as we continuously push for the rights of women at every level of engagement. Tackling both their day-to-day life obstacles and professional development challenges demonstrates our commitment to the course.
Happy Women’s Day! You deserve to be happy today and forever, enjoy your day to the fullest.
On this IWD2021, remember that as a woman, all life springs from you. Look at the world and smile; for without you, there would be no life.
Source: Bright Ampadu Okyere (An SDG Advocate) and Lead Partner SDG Alliance-Ghana, yourstory.com
Email: email@example.com Twitter: @ghanasdg Facebook: SDG Alliance-Ghana Tel. # 0244204664