Gender equality seems like a mirage. Women all over the world face so many dangers, just by existing.
In my country, Nigeria, abduction of girls is the new normal. The Chibok girls were abducted 700 days ago. They have not been found; they probably never will be. Who can imagine the horrors those girls have gone through!
Forced abduction and early marriage of young girls by adult men is on the rise. It’s a situation where society, culture and religion intersect in all the worst ways.
In Pakistan, and other countries, honor killings are nothing new. Women are slaughtered for imagined crimes. A brother murders his two sisters because he is suspicious of them and doubts their character. The government agencies do nothing, because taking action would put them at odds with the prevailing culture.
Women are still so poorly represented in leadership positions.
In Nigeria, women make up at least 49% of the population, but only 11.5% of women are board directors. There are qualified women to fill these roles. Yet, despite research showing that women-led organizations perform better, there is a scarcity of women in leadership positions.
We hear the sound of glass ceilings being shattered daily, but there is still a long way to go.
In some parts of the world, women are not allowed to walk on the streets unchaperoned, to vote, to have their own money. I cannot understand the absurdity of “allowing” an adult woman the control of her own life.
Where women can walk the streets, they are not free: they are so harassed and catcalled that it hardly seems worth it. A woman in the world is a potential victim of assault, rape, murder.
The International Women’s Day is something to celebrate. It is a day to laud and promote women, their rights and interests. We see how far we’ve come, and how much farther we could go together.
“Pledge for Parity” should not be a passing phrase, shouted from the rooftops for a few days, and then forgotten. All citizens of the world should strive to achieve a state where no one is held back or placed at a disadvantage by their gender.
Gender equality benefits us all, and we should work tirelessly to make it a reality.
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