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Today (8th March 2020) is International Women’s Day, an opportunity to celebrate all of the inspirational women who have changed the world. But also to take stock of where we’re at in the fight for gender equality. So we asked 5 powerful young women; What are the most essential issues to achieving gender equality by 2030 (in line with the Sustainable Development Goals)? And what women has inspired you the most?

Ruth Tawiah

Ruth Tawiah is a member of our Youth Power Panel.

What are the most essential issues to achieving gender equality by 2030 (in line with the Sustainable Development Goals)?

Changing the Narrative. Stories shared by and about women must focus on the positive, their successes and should fuel inspiration in others. To achieve SDG 5 by 2030, empowerment of women should target enriching the narrative. Women at the forefront of technology, science, education and commerce are achieving sky-limit results than their male counterparts so are those on the various streets in our communities. 21st Century women are taking up spaces and working smart. They are multitasking and approaching every challenge with a positive attitude because they are women, powerful and confident. Successes and achievements of women being placed in the spotlight will empower many to take up more challenging spaces to influence masculine statutes and conventions.

What women has inspired you the most?

Sally Ofori-Yeboah is the National Director of CAMFED International – Ghana, providing leadership in programming towards eradicating poverty by multiplying educational opportunities for women and empowering young women as change agents. Her passion lies with guiding the journeys of young women, providing counselling and support to shape their journeys and the achievement of SDG 5.

Bruna Elias

Bruna Elias, is a member of our Youth Power Panel.

What are the most essential issues to achieving gender equality by 2030 (in line with the Sustainable Development Goals)?

A persistent form of inequality is gender disparities. Women still face many discriminations related to health, education, economics and more. The world is not on track to achieve gender equality by 2030. With the rise of new changes in communications technology, new laws, policies or programs, with social and political activism and with exposure to new ideas and practices through formal and informal channels, what is needed now more than ever is new ways of looking at gender equality and women’s empowerment. Every day, we are pouring investments into women’s movements and campaigns, educational programs and initiatives.

Unfortunately, even with adequate education, women still lack equal access to opportunity. Giving women the utmost moral support and education is important, yet it is not enough. Women still face strong conventional societal expectations and beliefs and patterns of exclusion in decision making as well as a huge gender bias. They also face a glass ceiling whenever they have greater responsibility in politics and business leadership, and even social life. Putting women in positions of power is critical for social development. The sooner we understand that the lack of women in leadership roles holds back not only women, but all people, the sooner we will be able to advance society as a whole. For this reason, today I join the voices of women from around the world demanding governments, the private sector and civil society actors restore and reinvest in policies, as well as in the legal and social frameworks, that will achieve worldwide gender equality and inclusion.

What women has inspired you the most?

She’s someone who continues to inspire me in many ways. She instills in me a sense of self-worth and confidence and shows me how to be hardworking, resourceful and smart. She is a true hidden leader. An invariably strong woman, she showed me how important it is to listen and understand others before dealing with any situation, and stand up for those who cannot do it for themselves. She showed me how to use little resources to come up with the strongest ideas and be intentional with my time. Her stamina, tenacity, patience and compassion were always pushing me towards doing the right thing. She taught me to work hard, and make sure that the people around me are taken care of. She showed me how to think about the greater good rather than just my own, how to do good without looking for recognition.

This women has vision. She is a risk taker, decision maker and excellent communicator. She has the qualities of a top manager, always providing stretch challenges, setting high expectations while holding me accountable. She prepared me to deal with this volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world. Leaders give more, then receive. No she never worked in the corporate world, or owned her own business. She never sat on boards or steering committees. Yet she cultivates leadership skills every day at home and in the broader community. On this International Women’s Day, I’d like to pay tribute to her, my mother.  

Natalie Robi Tingo

What are the most essential issues to achieving gender equality by 2030 (in line with the Sustainable Development Goals)?

 The World Economic Forum has calculated that it will take women almost 100 years to reach gender equality. The Sustainable Development Goals are our commitment to shape the international development agenda and transform lives through action to end poverty, inequality and violence, particularly against women. Achieving gender parity and women’s leadership are indisputable prerequisites for addressing these global challenges.

We must have targeted initiatives to prevent and respond to gender-based violence help end child marriage, eliminate female genital mutilation, provide safe spaces, support menstrual health management, deliver HIV and AIDS care, meet psychosocial needs and more. We need to invest in innovative models that protect even the hardest-to-reach women and girls that allow them to link and connect to local resources for support.

What women has inspired you the most?

I am inspired by my mother and women like Wangari Maathai who challenge systems and status quo that sustain inequality and discrimination of women and girls.

Mary Namukisa

Mary Namukisa is a contributor to the WeAreRestless blog.

What are the most essential issues to achieving gender equality by 2030 (in line with the Sustainable Development Goals)?

Uganda as a country has very many cultures that are centered in different tribes these include widow inheritance prioritising the boy child and female genital mutilation. Laws against such practices should be strengthened and these should be abolished. It is also important to ensuring formal education for all children. Formal education is an eye opener to people. It exposes them to different cultural interactions, gives confidence to fight for one’s rights, and creates a platform for girls to prove to a community that they are as strong and competent as boys. Technical courses like tailoring, bakery, hair dressing, knitting, should be part of the curriculum from primary to at least S4 so that if girls don’t go to universities they still have opportunities to succeed. 

These measures will help open up the job market, as it is essential that all job roles are open to women from being a baker to becoming a president or an archbishop. There should also be strong laws to fight gender based violence and society should be sensitised about different forms of GBV and why we should fight it. Different platforms are needed so that women and girls can freely go to report such cases without being judged.

What women has inspired you the most?

My mother Nzamuhabwa Gorrette continues to inspire me. She is a strong woman who has stood against the public and her own family to fight for her children. My mother was not officially married to my father and in my culture my father was never recognised as a son or brother in law by my mother’s family. As a result my dad could not stay with us. He became addicted to alcohol and could not take care of us. We were in a temporary house thatched with grass; it started falling apart until we couldn’t stay there.

My mother decided to go back to her parent’s home and was not allowed to stay there unless she took us back to our drunkard dad. I was nine and I remember my mother responding; “I may sleep in the tree like a bird or a wild animal but wherever I will be is where my children will be, whatever I eat is what they will eat.”  We went through a lot but our mother never left us and she was all we had. We were strong and happy not because we had all we wanted but because someone was there and ready to sacrifice anything for us. I am who I am because of that strong woman, she has given me courage and taught me not to give up on anything I love or want to be.

Inés Yábar

Ines is a member of our Youth Power Panel

What are the most essential issues to achieving gender equality by 2030 (in line with the Sustainable Development Goals)?

Gender equality is an issue that needs to be addressed at many levels in society. One of them is in the fight against climate change. For example, women standing up to illegal loggers in the Amazon (and elsewhere in the world) face threats and violence. After increasing natural disasters, more and more young girls are being married off by their families and also facing 20-30% increase in human trafficking. Climate is one of the influencers in gender equality, however, many other SDG’s are linked it too. Education is key to allow equal opportunities for both women and men. A recent example of the relationship between these topics was the meeting between Greta & Malala with posts on social media by the education activist saying “She’s the only friend I’d skip school for.

What women has inspired you the most?

Although women are the ones who are most exposed to climate change & are less prepared in some countries, many women inspire me today. Starting with Maxima Acuña who stood up to a Mining company who violently intimidated her to move off of her own land. She has subsequently been recognised worldwide for her activism. Other women that inspire me, include those walking kilometres to go and find water, those in male dominated fields and women using their platforms for good. As we all inspire each other, moving forward becomes easier and ideas turn into solutions, moving forward to a more equal and sustainable world. 

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International Women’s Day: 5 inspirational women, 5 essential issues

by wearerestless Reading time: 7 min
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