By Salimatou Fatty
International Women’s Day (IWD), celebrated on March 8 every year, is the day when we should all renew our commitment to gender equality.
This year’s theme is #PressforProgress. It should remind all of us to evaluate and push issues that are most relevant for the progress of gender parity and equality. For me, every day is IWD.
Taking stock of our progress
Can we take a moment and reflect what we have achieved since the last commemoration of IWD? How are we achieving? How are schools becoming more equal for all girls and boys? Is the implementation of the right to education for girls and women making solid and substantial progress?
There are many laws already in place to promote the rights of women and girls. In my country, the Gambia, these rights are enshrined in our Constitution, women’s act, children’s act, sexual offences act, etc.
All these laws are meant to empower women and girls and promote their rights. Many other countries also have laws that promote these rights. We should now focus on ensuring that these laws are actually implemented.
Youth have a role to play
Young people have a big role to play in ensuring that every girl and every woman has access to quality education, that their fundamental human rights are respected, and in ending all forms of violence against them.
We need to reaffirm our commitment as young people in promoting gender equality. We need to work collectively, network and work in uniformity.
And that is exactly what we did at the GPE Financing Conference in Dakar: young people collectively raised their voice in a youth statement delivered to world leaders, private sector and the development community.
We called on them to ensure education systems tackle gender inequality. We recommended that governments invest in gender transformative teacher training and pedagogies, including ensuring comprehensive sexuality education is part of the curriculum. We called on the private sector to invest in technological and vocational training for skills development specifically for girls and young women.
We did it because, as young people, it’s ‘our’ education system we are talking about and ‘our’ lives. It is our responsibility to ensure gender equality is promoted, implemented and that governments are held accountable, so let’s #PressforProgress. There is no time to waste, the time is now.
Let’s use social media and technology widely to tear down barriers and create awareness about the issues affecting our sisters, cousins, mothers, aunts. Too many girls are married off early, some are subjected to rape, some are dropping out of school, and others cannot have access to school, let alone to quality education.
Too many girls are still out of school (131 million around the world, 50 million in sub-Saharan Africa). Let’s add our voices to fight against barriers that will prevent girls to enter womanhood peacefully and with agency.
Education promotes gender equality
I grew up in patriarchal society and I was raised by a woman, my mother. I am speaking up because I was motivated and inspired by a woman. There are many women struggling day and night to ensure their children live in good conditions.
Many societies tend to ignore the significant role of women in the homes and communities. Women’s unpaid labor is often not valued nor factored in GDP, frequently remaining unseen and unrecognized. It is time to recognize how important their role and contributions are. Let’s ensure both sexes see each other as partners, let’s continue creating more awareness, let’s #PressforProgress.
Let’s ask our leaders to increase funding for the education sector and for those countries that pledged at the GPE Financing Conference, to deliver on their promise. It is critical to anchor gender equality approaches within education sector planning processes, a key area of focus at GPE, so that gender data is analyzed and barriers identified both within and external to education; relevant strategies to address the barriers are formulated, costed and included in the budget and results framework and reported on, so that there is a clear accountability mechanism.
I believe education is the only way we can achieve gender equality and sustainable development. Education creates awareness, civilization, equality, justice.
Let’s celebrate women’s day every day until every girl and woman can live in dignity and harmony.
On this IWD, I urged everyone to stand firm and #PressforProgress for the advancement of women and girls.
This blog was originally published on the Global Partnership for Education blog at https://www.globalpartnership.org/blog/every-day-international-womens-day