Today I saw a post from our Ex Prime Minster, Helen Clark (and if I say so myself, one of the best our country has ever seen, and a hero of mine). She made a post, to commemorate that today, the 8th of March, is International Women's Day. She shared the UN's (United Nations) 'Progress For All' meme (see above) and stated, "Gender equality not only improves lives of women and girls, but also the prospects of families, communities and nations.'
Inspiring change is this years United Nations theme.
It got me thinking, and it got me wondering.
Firstly, where are we at in terms of woman and children in our world? What exactly is the situation? It can be all too easy to fall into a false sense of complacency when you live in a country that for the most part, is a blessing to live in as a woman.
New Zealand has a proud history of Women's Suffrage and strong, independent Kiwi women that we can be proud of. We are, on average, women who are entrepreneurial, capable of thinking outside the box, and we were the first country to give women the right to vote.
As the mother of a young girl who will one day grow up to inherit the world, I am forever grateful that here in New Zealand, her future success is only limited by her imagination and hard work. If she decides to be the next 'lorde', run for parliament and become Prime Minister, be a CEO of a large multi national corporation, or lead Greenpeace in its next crusade, then here in New Zealand - land of the best cows milk Fonterra can produce, and sweetest manuka honey a bee can collect, is where it will happen.
This is not the case for the majority of women and girls in our world.
A few facts:
- Violence kills more women than war. At least 1 in every 3 women around the world is beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused during their lifetime. Usually the abuser is someone she knows.
- When a Nation finds itself at war, 90% of the victims of conflict are woman and children. In Rwanda during 1994, up to 500,000 women were raped. In the Croatian/Boznia-Herzegovina conflict, up to 60,000 women were raped.
- Around the world, only around 20% of women are represented in Parliament.
- Despite the fact that women make up half the worlds population, over 70% of them are in poverty. For these women, they face hard lives of injustice, abuse and hardship.
- Four million girls and women are sold into prostitution or slavery every year.
- On average, women earn half of what men do. They face discrimination and 'glass ceilings'.
- 99% of maternal deaths die in developing countries - that is one women or young girl dying every MINUTE.
- In many countries, girls are required to marry young, many to men 3 or 4 times older.
- In many parts of the world girls are not allowed to attend school and get an education. This despite the fact that being educated is a key means for future success, lower mortality rates, less chances of HIV and a better quality of life.
- Globally there are 10 million girls less than boys not being educated. 41 million of them are denied a primary education.
- There are 750 million people who can not read - of those, 2/3rds are women. The fact you can read this makes you a minority!
- Although women produce 80% of the worlds food, most of them go hungry.
- In one country, Saudi Arabia, women are prohibited to drive, or ride a bicycle in public. Apparently woman are also prohibited to leave their house without their husbands permission.
- Having a boy baby is more prized than having a girl in some countries, and as a result parents may choose to end a pregnancy if they find out they have a girl.
- In some countries women are unable to own land or housing.
So, I wonder.
Why does this happen to our women and girls?
Why do we let these atrocities and the gross, deliberate disempowerment continue?
What is wrong with our society that we would do this to our mothers, our wives, daughters, sisters, aunties, our grandmas, and our communities?
How do we improve things in our world?
Who of us will take charge and take action?
How do we protect all those precious little girls out there from being exploited, marginalised or disempowered?
What will happen if we don't?
Oh, I could wonder about this for a long time.
Inspiring Change is a worthy theme. For me, If I could wave a magic wand to eliminate this I would fix it in a flash. Imagine a world where all the successful women assisted those less fortunate to climb the ladder of success and then they, in turn, help the next generation. It concerns me that there is so much feminine tragedy in the world. Those of us in the developed world, whist far further down the equality road, still face discriminatory policies and actions.
If I could inspire change in others, it would be that all of us unite - men and women - to ensure that we do what we can to ensure our women - our mums, nanas, aunties, daughters, sisters - are able to be all that they are capable of being.