In an unequal and diverse world of more than eight billion people, we continue to transcend our differences over the same vision – achieving rights and justice for all.
We are increasingly collaborating to shape a just, resilient and sustainable world, with gender equality at the heart of it all. Today, on World Population Day, we recognize the power of gender equality to unlock the limitless potential of our world. Today, more than ever, we are amplifying the voices of women and girls, especially those who are most vulnerable.
In Africa, Women and girls make up 50% of the total population, which means that there are about 1.3 billion women and girls living on the continent today.
In Eastern and Southern Africa, we have many stories telling how far we have come, where we are and how far we need to go as the clock ticks to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.
Susan’s story South Sudan It is one that resonates in many parts of the world. When Suzanne began menstruating at the age of eleven, she was taken out of the house and told her aunt to sit on a hole the earth had dug for her until the bleeding stopped. We’re talking about sitting on top of a hole in the dirt days.
Unfulfilled dreams lead to rights being violated across the life cycle, perpetuating a world that marginalizes and limits the potential of every individual, regardless of gender.
This young girl assumed that with her menstrual cycle—a healthy bodily function—she must have committed some crime to incur such treatment from the women in her family and community, where segregation of menstruating women was normal practice.
In a society where cattle equaled wealth, the needs of a young girl in handling an important bodily process with knowledge, dignity, and respect were denied, due to the cultural misunderstanding attributed to menstruation.
The story of Anna from Nkhata Bay in Malawi is equally disturbing. she She returns from the field one day to find her husband sitting on the porch in a bad mood. He wanted to sleep with her and when she refused, he tried to hit her over the head with a machete, slamming her arm twice before she could escape. sHe was transferred to the hospital and nearly lost her hand. Her husband is serving six years in prison.
The stories of Anna and Susan, and thousands more like theirs, show that when it comes to gender equality, we still have a long way to go.
Read more at The Daily Maverick: South Africa has many mountains to climb to achieve gender equality by 2030
It is unfortunate that despite including nearly half of the world’s population, continental, regional and national, the desires and aspirations of women and girls are often excluded from important decisions and far-reaching actions to scale up rights-based and people-centered interventions. To ensure that rights and choices are fulfilled.
Every girl shares the same dream – the opportunity to make her dreams come true.
Unfulfilled dreams lead to rights being violated across the life cycle, perpetuating a world that marginalizes and limits the potential of every individual, regardless of gender. This is not just a problem for women and girls; It affects us all and hinders our collective pursuit of a prosperous and peaceful future.
A pivotal question lies behind the Holy Grail gender equality How to accelerate the pace and scale of work in complex, evolving, diverse and uncertain societies and countries.
Gender inequality remains a pervasive injustice that denies women and girls equal access to health, education and learning; excludes them from financial inclusion, labor participation, and leadership positions; It restricts their agency in making decisions about their health and reproductive life. Moreover, it increases the vulnerability of vulnerable populations to violence and harmful practices.
It is a stark reality that every two minutes a woman dies from pregnancy or obstetrical causes, a tragic statistic that requires immediate action. This not only undermines the rights and choices of women and girls, but stifles the progress of entire societies.
Read more at The Daily Maverick: Global progress towards reducing maternal and newborn deaths stalled – hope lies in ‘accelerating together’
So, how do we proceed? We need a transformative process that includes the voices and change-making roles of women, girls and other marginalized individuals in all spheres of society and all phases of humanitarian, development and peace actions.
By harnessing the power of half the planet’s population, we can confront the pressing problems of our time. The creativity, ingenuity, resources and strength that women and girls possess are essential to leverage demographic diversity, and to address the impact of climate change and conflict on sustainable lives and livelihoods.
Ignoring their voices and contributions would be a missed opportunity for a resilient future.
An investment in gender equality today is an investment in our common future.
Together, we can create a world where the dreams and aspirations of all individuals come true. A diverse and prosperous world of more than eight billion people, filled with infinite possibilities, depends on our collective efforts to build a more just, resilient, and inclusive future. DM
Lydia Zygomo is the Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa at the United Nations Population Fund.