UN Women

UN Women says it has intensified its preparations for the 2021 Generation Equality Forum following reports that women’s rights and leadership are under threat.

The UN agency made this known amidst the commemoration of the 2021 International Women’s Day (IWD).

IWD is a day the world celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women.

The 2021 IWD, which is themed ‘Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a Covid-19 world’, aims to address the extraordinary hardship that the pandemic has brought to millions of women and girls and their communities.

Current UN projections show that gender equality in the highest positions of power will not be reached for another 130 years.

This IWD comes at a moment where evidence is growing that the pandemic is having a disproportionate and severe impact on women’s rights – from their role as front-line health care workers often without adequate protection, to the loss of jobs as the informal economy shrinks.

‘We must remember 2021 as a global inflection point on gender equality – a year when women’s rights and leadership accelerated irreversibly’, UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka said in a statement.

‘The Generation Equality Forum will be a catalyst for lasting change. A more equal world will be a different world.

‘More inclusive decisions will be made, different voices heard, and different solutions created’.

For his part, the UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, said, ‘Gender equality is essentially a question of power.

‘A male-dominated world and a male-dominated culture will yield male-dominated results. But the opportunity of man-made problems – and I choose these words deliberately – is that they have human-led solutions.

‘These solutions can only be found through shared leadership and decision-making; and through the full realisation of women’s rights, including the right to equal participation. Realizing women’s rights will benefit all of us’.

Meanwhile, the African Union (AU) has emphasised the participation and representation of women in all decision-making bodies, calling for an end to violence against women.

‘On this International Women’s Rights Day, I have a special and affectionate thought for all the African women in cities, and especially in the rural areas, who live in pain, suffer in silence, and are victims of physical or sexual violence’, the AU Commission Chairperson, Moussa Faki Mahamat, said in a statement marking the day.

Mahamat went on to say that the equality and empowerment of women are seen as an opportunity to get African women ‘out of their deplorable conditions, made up of violence, exclusion and prejudice’.

Child marriages, female genital mutilation (FGM) are among the challenges that face many girls in Africa.

For example, in Tanzania’s Maasai communities in Arusha, a great number of girls are affected by these harmful traditional practices which hinder them from achieving their academic dreams.

‘Unfortunately, these wrongs exist and persist in most African countries. Women and girls continue to be the primary victims of the conflicts and crises afflicting our continent’, the AU statement added.

Stakeholders, in partnership with governments, both at the national and local levels, have been taking various steps to ensure communities are aware of the oppressive harmful practices.

The Centre for Women and Children Development (CWCD), with funding from the Foundation for Civil Society (FCS), is implementing a girl protection intervention in Arusha, according to FCS.

In advocating girls’ rights, multifaceted approaches were used, including working with school teachers in the formulation of student school clubs, by the organisation.

FCS said in a report that the clubs were designed to bring together Maasai girls or girls from pastoral communities to empower them, educating them on the realisation of the importance of education, and ensure they complete their schooling safely.

Source: UN Women

Photo source: FCS

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