UN to mark International Women’s Day
INTERNATIONAL Women’s Day (IWD) will be commemorated globally tomorrow on March 8, with events organised by United Nation’s Women in more than 50 countries to galvanise attention on gender equality and women’s rights issues.
This year’s theme will focus on “Women in the Changing World of Work: Planet 50-50 by 2030”.
In her message for International Women’s Day 2017, UN women executive director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka calls for change in every part of society, from home to the workplace.
“We want to construct a different world of work for women. As they grow up, girls must be exposed to a broad range of careers, and encouraged to make choices that lead beyond the traditional service and care options to jobs in industry, art, public service, modern agriculture and science.
“We have to start change at home and in the earliest days of school, so that there are no places in a child’s environment where they learn that girls must be less, have less, and dream smaller than boys,” she said.
She said across the world, too many women and girls spend too many hours on household responsibilities, typically more than double the time spent by men and boys.
“They look after younger siblings, older family members, deal with illness in the family and manage the house.
“In many cases this unequal division of labour is at the expense of women’s and girls’ learning, of paid work, sports, or engagement in civic or community leadership.
“This shapes the norms of relative disadvantage and advantage, of where women and men are positioned in the economy, of what they are skilled to do and where they will work,” she said.
According to Ms Ngcuka, this is the unchanging world of unrewarded work, a globally familiar scene of withered futures, where girls and their mothers sustain the family with free labour, with lives whose paths are very different from the men of the household.
“This will take adjustments in parenting, curricula, educational settings, and channels for everyday stereotypes like TV, advertising and entertainment; it will take determined steps to protect young girls from harmful cultural practices like early marriage, and from all forms of violence.
“Women and girls must be ready to be part of the digital revolution,” she said.
She said currently only 18 percent of undergraduate computer science degrees are held by women.
“We must see a significant shift in girls all over the world taking STEM subjects, if women are to compete successfully for high-paying ‘new collar’ jobs.
She said achieving equality in the workplace will require an expansion of decent work and employment opportunities, involving governments’ targeted efforts to promote women’s participation in economic life, the support of important collectives like trade unions, and the voices of women themselves in framing solutions to overcome current barriers.