On this historic and symbolic day, the world celebrates women’s achievements in the socio economic and political domains. The day provides an opportunity to remember and hail the unsung s/heroes – those gender activists who struggled and claimed women’s human rights.
It is equally important to highlight that the IWD celebrations dates to 1911 when women and men from Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland rallied to put and end to discrimination and campaigned for women’s rights. Thereafter, IWD gained momentum until it was marked in 1975 by the UN and subsequently proclaimed by the UN General Assembly.
At national level, we have witnessed over the years IWD celebrations by various institutions namely, public, private and CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANISATIONS. IWD is also fitting to take stock of progress made in favour of women; identify constraint/ hurdles/challenges that continue to undermine women from enjoying their fundamental birth rights; and strategize for accelerating the pace to gender equality.
It is against this backdrop that GEF wishes to bring up two main questions.
- Is there still need and valid reasons to celebrate IWD, in view that this day has been marked for more than a century now?
- What is the main purpose of flagging out the pertinence and relevance of IWD in this new era?
Well, indeed, IWD is very much a live issue because despite multiple strides made in favour of women, progress in most of UN Member States has remained uneven. Moreover, the Global Gender Gap Report of the World Economic Forum (2022) reveals that at the present pace progress is being made, it will take another 132 years to attain gender parity- hence, this IWD provides us with yet another chance to move beyond celebrations and strategize to work to the attainment of substantive gender equality.
To that end, GEF’s focus is to place men’s voices at the forefront, and address Gender equality differently. Our intent is not to play a ‘blame game’ but it is a call to men to amplify their voices for gender equality.
No matter how hard it may seem, women should not be pushed into a gender box. There is a place for all of us- men and women to shine and be treated equally and that place is ‘out of the gender out.’
The ultimate objective is to untie the hard knots in our society’s fabric which have been tied by patriarchy and masculinity.
It is important to highlight that there are men who have already begun to embrace change also known as the allies of gender equality and GEF acknowledges their efforts. On this symbolic day, GEF relies on other men to break the gender bias and become gender equality champions.
In my humble opinion, men have an essential role to play in promoting gender equality and breaking down the barriers that prevent women and other marginalized groups from achieving their full potential. By challenging gender stereotypes, promoting equal rights and opportunities in the workplace, and advocating for an end to gender-based violence and harassment, men can be powerful allies in the fight for gender equality. Together, we can create a more just and equal world for all.
We must take inspiration from illustrious men of whom here are some quotes:
- “It is time that men and boys recognize the part they must play in gender equality and join with the voices and actions of the women and girls who are trying to re-shape society in the interests of us all.” Jimmy CARTER, former Present of the United States of America (1977-1981) and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate
- “That’s what twenty-first century feminism is about: the idea that when everybody is equal, we are all more free.” Barack OBAMA, former US President
- "Achieving gender equality requires the engagement of women and men, girls and boys. It is everyone's responsability." Ban KI-MOON
- "Gender equality is more than a goal in itself. It is a precondition for meeting the challenge of reducing poverty, promoting sustainable development and building good governance." Kofi ANNAN