By Dr Claudine Hingston (MANCOSA Centre for Women Leadership)
International Women’s Day is celebrated on the 8th of March annually to acknowledge women and their achievements. However, the struggle for gender equality still continues and women have a long way to go in order to achieve full equality with men and shake off various forms of discrimination. Discriminatory cultural traditions and societal gender expectations continue to place women in disadvantageous and vulnerable positions. For instance, women and girls are expected to do the household chores and this can be very time consuming. According to the UN Women Executive Director, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, this unequal division of labour within the household, negatively impacts women and girls’ learning, paid work, sports and engagement in civic or community leadership.
The World Economic Forum predicts that the gender gap between men and women will only entirely close in 2186. This is a very long time from now, thus, women will continue to be subjected to forms of discrimination and inequality. There is a need for renewed and determined action to shorten this time and make a positive change in the lives of women worldwide. As such, the campaign’s theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is ‘Be Bold for Change’. Boldness is needed to effect change and it is time to time to join forces and take bold actions to accelerate a positive change in the status of women. There should be a concerted effort by all stakeholders to bring about a positive change in the status of women. This include families, communities, governments, religious and cultural bodies, the media, private and public institutions and educational institutions. The curricular and policies in educational institutions for instance, should be reviewed and redesigned to promote gender equality, women empowerment and a positive shift of thinking. The message that there is a need for a bold change has to be aggressively reiterated and the media could play an important role in this regard. Governments’ should endeavour to be more committed towards promoting women’s welfare and their active participation in the economic and political arenas. Most importantly, women themselves must identify their challenges and explore solutions to them. It is hoped that this year’s theme will encourage women to be bolder, stronger and more powerful in all spheres of life.
As individuals, we can be bold by taking actions that leads to great changes for women. Women deserve to be treated equally with men and not subjected to discriminatory and violent treatment. They should be given the opportunity to live quality lives and be respected for the meaningful contribution they make to society. Take the first step towards equality.
#Be Bold for Change.