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Developing a just society based on equity and equal opportunities for all with respect for diversity.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

#Womensday: The battle for equal gender rights is far from over

By Amy Corrigan

At RAINS, our motto is Empowering the Vulnerable. We strive to build the capacity of those in need and attempt to implement sustainable and long-lasting change. With International Women’s Day approaching on 8 March, discussion of women’s equality will temporarily flourish in the media, only to fade away again from the mainstream into the fringes. Women’s activist groups are rife, governments are ostensibly making steps to decrease gender disparity, and the UN recognises the serious need to promote gender equality. Yet the battle for equal gender rights is far from over - it’s something everybody needs to get involved in.

Women perform 66% of the world's work for just 10% of the income
Some people even refuse to recognise this inequality, so in order to reach the goal of equality we all not only need to identify and lament the problem, but work to defeat it. Whatever feminist triumphs have been made in the past, it is simply not far-reaching enough. These past accomplishments need to be used as catalysts and motivation to intensify future change and not let the fight for equality stagnate.

Only 22% of parliamentarians worldwide are women. Women perform 66% of the world’s work for just 10% of the total income. 1 in 3 girls marry before the age of eighteen. Two-thirds of the world’s illiterate population are women. And thousands of women are subjected to female gential mutilation (FGM), sexual violence and forced marriage. This list of harrowing statistics goes on and on, but what matters most is what we can do to change this.

Full women’s empowerment would drastically change society from the bottom to the upper echelons of power, and for the better. Equal wages would create greater spending power which would encourage development, and a more educated female workforce would provide developing countries with the skills to help construct much needed infrastructure.

Hana addressing a group of girls at one of our
sensitisation sessions
The most important thing is education. At RAINS, the underlying motivation for all our projects is education. Education is the most important factor in attaining equality. We follow the community-based approach, in the hopes that our message reaches all of the community; development does not just rest on the shoulders of girls, but on the whole community.

In our Safe Choices sensitisations we try to instil responsibility in young boys that avoiding teenage pregnancy is not just an issue for girls. Further, we try to educate girls about how to protect and respect themselves, in the hope they’ll go on to follow their dreams. Last Friday we visited the Nayorku farming community, and were elated to find that the whole community now valued education much more, to the extent that child labour on the farms had almost ceased to exist.

We should not see International Women’s Day as a one-day event, but remember it is an ongoing campaign, which will only succeed if we all recognise the problems, speak out, educate each other and do all we can.