International Women’s Day – Awareness is not enough!
Last Sunday, 8 March, was International Women’s Day with a theme of “Make It Happen,” a call to get cracking on some of the biggest issues for women around the world. It’s a message echoed by Executive Director of UN Women, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, who recently posted a video message urging countries to “step it up” for gender equality, so that the world will be 50/50 by 2030. In 2015, “awareness” is out — action is in.
There are still major obstacles for women: violence against women is still a pandemic, too few women are in leadership roles and most workplaces don’t make enough accommodations for working mothers. But there has been progress, evidence that when we commit to global action for women, we can move towards greater gender equality. Here are some statistics to make us hopeful (taken from the UN Women website):
Education: Girls and boys worldwide are now enrolling in primary school at almost equal rates. The next step is secondary school, where the gender gap widens again.
Maternal Mortality: In the last 25 years, maternal mortality has dropped by 45%, which means that half of the women who survive childbirth today wouldn’t have done so 25 years ago. Still, 800 women a day die from basic pregnancy complications, mostly in the developing world.
Water access: Water is an important issue for women, since in many developing countries girls are responsible for fetching water, which can keep them out of school or put them in danger of being attacked. Between 1990 and 2010, 2 billion people gained access to clean drinking water.
Leadership: Since 1995, the number of women serving in legislatures has nearly doubled — but that still only translates to 22% of politicians worldwide.
There’s still work to do, especially when it comes to getting women into leadership roles and stopping violence against women, but the advances in health and education since 1995 have been striking. It means progress is possible. It’s already happened, and we can make it happen again.
Is your business doing enough to close the gender gap?
Adapted from an article by Charlotte Alter, Time Magazine