Tuesday, 3 March 2015

International Women's Day 2015

International Women's Day celebration is a fantastic day to celebrate and honour women advocating and creating positive change. It is also a day to raise issues women face globally. Like many events for positive discrimination, International Women's Day is very much needed. You only need to look at statistics by UNICEF and WHO to understand some of the issues. Some will argue that, women now have all the equality they fought and campaigned for. Well....I disagree. The fact that globally, women are underpaid, undervalued and marginalised is an issue, that makes it an issue, therefore we don't have all the equality we deserve.  

Over the past few years, Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) has been an international focus. It is a practice that is condemned by international treaties and conventions and, by many national laws even in Africa. But the battle is not over!

FGM is where young girls or women have all or part of their clitoris and inner and outer labia sliced off without anaesthesia. Sometimes, part of their vaginas are sewn up too (UNICEF, 2014). FGM is concentrated in 29 countries across Africa and The Middle East. However, this practice is widespread in lower adolescent girls than in middle-aged women. Over 130m girls and women have undergone FGM, 40 to 50 are treated on a monthly basis after undergoing such procedure in Birmingham, UK (The Independent, 2014).

Working rights is also a concern for women. In the UK, the gender pay gap for full timer workers stands at 15% and 35% for part time workers. On average, women earn £5k less than their male colleagues. Also, men are economically active in the workplace with 84% compared to 71% of women. Only 24% of women are in managerial jobs globally. Human Rights revealed that, it will take 70 years to see equal genders in director roles in FTSE 100 companies. Outrageous is an understatement to the latter assertion.

Education is the single most important civil right issue in America according to Michelle Obama in a statement last month. Personally, education is an issue worldwide. Some have the means but perform badly whilst others don't have the means and therefore no performance measures. Education is beyond credentials or affirmation of ones presence at an educational institution. Rather, it is an opportunity that should allow people to broaden their horizon, think and challenge views.
 
Girls facts from Plan International 2014.  
  • The leading cause of death in girls aged 15-19yrs in developing countries is pregnancy.
  • An extra year of mother schooling cuts infants mortality by 5% and 10%.
  • 62m girls across the world are out of school.
  • Globally, 1 in 5 girls in lower secondary school age is out of school.
  • 1 in 3 girls in developing countries is married by the age of 18.
  • 1 in 9 marries before the age of 15.
  • Every year, 15m girls are forced into marriage.
  • 150m girls under the age of 18 have experienced rape or other forms of sexual violence.
The above issues and facts are not the only issues women face globally, but they are some of those issues that need to be addressed before change can be restored in our society. "If you educate a man, you educate an individual. If you educate a woman, you educate a nation" (African Proverb).

What's your International Women's Day theme this year?

References

Plan International (2014). [Online] http://plan-international.org/girls/girl-facts-sources.php?lang=en [Accessed 3rd March 2015].

The Independent (2014) International Women's Day 2014: The shocking statistics that still show why it is important. [Online] http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/international-womens-day-2014-the-shocking-statistics-that-show-why-it-is-still-so-important-9177211.html [Accessed 3rd March 2015].

UNICEF (2014) Female genital mutilation and cutting. [Online] http://data.unicef.org/child-protection/fgmc [Accessed 3rd March 2015].