Today we celebrate the International Women’s Day. This celebration has been happening since 1909, but on different dates. In 1914, the date was set to March 8 th , which is still the day for this celebration.
In 2015, the world got the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including 17 sustainable development goals. All 17 goals include aspects on gender, but goal number 5 specifically targets gender equality. Including gender equality in sustainable development is important, because when we improve the conditions for women and girls, the improvements benefit whole societies. And we are making progress. Still, inequalities persist on many areas. How can we address the issues and join the struggle to
balance out the inequalities for a better, more equal world?
The reasons to celebrate this day are many. We celebrate that more than 90% of girls finish primary education. We celebrate that in 2017, women all over the world stood up and raised their voices to shed light on and say no to sexual harassment and violence. Perpetrators all over the world were, and are still being, held accountable for their actions, and women told the world that enough is enough.
We celebrate that more women take part in politics and that women’s political rights are being strengthened all over the world. But for a lot of women and girls, today is still more of a protest day than a celebration. Because what would you be celebrating if you were married off against your will at 12 years old, having no control over your reproductive rights, or if you were denied education? What would you be celebrating if you were denied the right to work, or if you didn’t have the right to own the land you live on? Would you be celebrating if you had no say in the economic affairs in your own home? Would you be celebrating if you were denied your right to follow your dream because you are a woman? These are not hypothetical questions. These are examples of challenges women from all corners of the world face every day. For these women, a lot of work is yet to be done before they can partake in the celebrations. This struggle is not theirs to bear alone, it is on all of our shoulders.
Martin Luther King Jr said “No one is free until we are all free” – so even if some countries have achieved equality on many
areas, others have not. We cannot close our eyes on injustice happening elsewhere in the world, just because we are safe and comfortable where we are. That’s why we need everyone on board; women, men, girls and boys. Individuals, organisations, governments and schools, we all have a role to play and we need to play it well for real change to happen.
When adopting the Sustainable Development Goals, governments pledged that they will be ‘leaving no one behind’. Are we up for the task? Are we ready to include everyone, no matter who you are, what you look like or what you believe in? Let’s take up the responsibility to be inclusive of all and work for gender equality on all levels, because no one is free until we all are free. And today is a good day to start!