Int’l Women’s Day: Gender Equality Today for a Sustainable Tomorrow

It is International Women’s Day! It is a day set aside to commemorate the cultural, political and socioeconomic achievements of women. The day marks a call to a gender equal world – free of bias, stereotypes and discrimination and one that is diverse, equitable, inclusive while differences are valued and celebrated.

The United Nation’s theme for this year’s observance is “Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow” in recognition and celebration of the women and girls who are leading the charge on climate change adaptation and response and to honour their leadership and contribution towards a sustainable future.

Advancing gender equality in the context of the climate crisis and disaster risk reduction is one of the greatest global challenges of the 21st century.

Women are increasingly being recognized as more vulnerable to climate change impacts than men, as they constitute the majority of the world’s poor and are more dependent on the natural resources which climate change threatens the most.

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At the same time, women and girls are effective and powerful leaders and change-makers for climate adaptation and mitigation. They are involved in sustainability initiatives around the world, and their participation and leadership results in more effective climate action.

Continuing to examine the opportunities, as well as the constraints, to empower women and girls to have a voice and be equal players in decision-making related to climate change and sustainability is essential for sustainable development and greater gender equality. Without gender equality today, a sustainable future, and an equal future, remains beyond our reach.

Africa has progressive normative frameworks that guarantee gender equality in social, economic and political affairs. Through years of activism and legal reforms, many countries are seeing progress in terms of women’s rights and status in societies.

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However, the continent still lags behind in realising the goals set in various continental legal frameworks including the African Charter on the Rights of Women in Africa and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child resulting in the rights of women and girls not being upheld and their full contribution to society being hampered by amongst others, underlying structural inequalities that perpetuate harmful cultural practices, negative social norms and lack of bodily autonomy.

Did you know?

  • Seventy per cent of the 1.3 billion people living in conditions of poverty are women. In urban areas, 40 per cent of the poorest households are headed by women.
  • Women predominate in the world’s food production (50-80 per cent), but they own less than 10 per cent of the land.
  • 80 per cent of the displaced by climate related disasters and changes around the world are women and girls.
  • Climate change may lead to more gender-based violence, an increase in child marriages, and worsening sexual and reproductive health.
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