International Women’s Day is a call to action.
Achieving full gender equality, one of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), could take up to 286 years if the current rate of slow progress continues, according to the 2022 Gender Snapshot Report published by UN Women and the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA). Without swift action, legal systems that do not ban violence against women, remove discriminatory laws, or protect their rights in marriage and family, may continue to exist for generations to come.
“It is critical that we rally now to invest in women and girls to reclaim and accelerate progress. The data show undeniable regressions in their lives made worse by the global crises – in incomes, safety, education and health. The longer we take to reverse this trend, the more it will cost us all,” said Sima Bahous, Executive Director at UN Women.
Drawing our attention to the precarious situation of women around the globe, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres spoke up, “Women’s rights are ‘vanishing before our eyes’ and women’s rights are being abused, threatened, and violated around the world. Maternal mortality is increasing. One woman dies every two minutes during pregnancy or childbirth and most of those deaths are preventable. Progress won over decades is vanishing before our eyes.”
Guterres calls for “urgent action to equalise power” by expanding educational and job possibilities for women and girls, “especially in the global south,” promoting women’s participation in science and technology, and creating a “safe digital environment for women and girls.” Education is a Human Right.
“The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic continues for millions of girls forced out of school, mothers and careers forced out of paid employment, and children forced into early marriage. From Ukraine to the Sahel, crisis and conflict affect women and girls first and worst,” he added.
Edelman’s 23rd annual trust and credibility survey – Navigating a Polarised World – revealed how macro pressures are manifested at an individual level in a set of fears ranging from inflation to nuclear war and these sit on top of pre-existing worries about job losses to automation and the impact of climate change. The consequence is a descent from distrust to acute polarization in society. Without intervention, we will see a continued move from a crisis of institutional trust to a crisis of interpersonal trust.
Its CEO Richard Edelman stated, “Trust enables action and action builds trust. The precondition for trust is a system that works for all.” For businesses of all sizes, he emphasised the need to make Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) a fundamental part of global business strategy. To use the supply chain to insist on diversity at medium – and small businesses as has been done in sustainability. To defy the usual excuse of recession; keep pushing for more diverse boards of directors and top management teams and make religion an equal third leg along with race and gender.
Gender equity and equality is a must-have and fighting the long fight will need allies world wide to challenge gender stereotypes, call out discrimination, draw attention to bias, and seek out inclusion.
When we embrace equity, we embrace diversity, and we embrace inclusion. Equity is when resources are shared based on what each person needs to adequately level the playing field. Equality is the goal, and equity is the pathway to get there.
It must be NOW!