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Making Gender Equality A Reality: International Women’s Day

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March 9, 2015

If you haven’t seen the South Africa Salvation Army’s take on the #dress controversy of last week that puzzled some, irritated some, and fascinated others, here it is:

This was absolutely brilliant. #TheDress hoopla was used to draw attention to violence against women. It explores what catches our attention and the topics like abuse that some don’t want to discuss.

I don’t know about you but the campaign makes me appropriately uncomfortable. It makes me want to move, to share, and to act. This campaign could not have come at a better time because the United Nations and the world observed International Women’s Day yesterday.

As with any day that celebrates the achievements of women, we must recognize existing challenges and setbacks to gender equality. The #NotThere campaign attempts to address  existing obstacles in the areas of reproductive justice that must be overcome before reaching gender equality. The campaign above is just one example of the existing setbacks.

As we know, the lives of women intersect experiences tied to  race, class, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, and much more. This shapes how our respective countries and institutions within those countries see us and value us as citizens.

This year’s global theme according to the International Women’s Day website, #MakeItHappen, is bold. It calls for immediate action and mobilization. To me, it says push forward and be resilient. The UN’s theme is Empowering Women – Empowering Humanity: Picture It! This year’s theme seeks to address women and girl’s access to political freedoms, education, economic resources,and safety.

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The UN commemorated the 2oth anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing (September 4 – 15, 1995). a conference that tackled women’s human rights. The conference resulted in the creation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action of 1995, “a visionary agenda for the empowerment of women” (Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action of 1995). The platform for action tackles 12 critical issues:

1. Poverty

2. Education and Training

3. Health

4. Violence

5. Armed Conflict

6. Economy

7. Power and Decision-Making

8. Institutional Mechanisms

9. Human Rights

10. Media

11. Environment.

12. The Girl Child

 

Twenty years after the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action of 1995, gender equality is still a relevant discussion. The Executive Director of UN Women Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka challenges countries to be 50-50 by 2030.

The “Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step It Up for Gender Equality” initiative calls on governments to be accountable to women and address gender equality at the federal and state level. I look forward to seeing what kind of achievements can be made in the next year.

These tweets and hashtags have been inspiring. The solidarity is ever-present and I am always appreciative of everyone who calls attention to issues in their own community and the global community. After all, the issues we face are deeply connected to our communities and neighborhoods.

Here are some  hashtags and accounts you can follow to relive yesterday’s International Women’s Day!:

#InternationalWomensDay

#IWD2015

#HappyWomensDay

@UN_Women (English)

@ONUMujeres (Spanish)

@ONUFemmes (French) –

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