Let’s end discrimination against women, girls everywhere

Globally, March 8 is a day of women, not just women, but great mothers, sisters, friends, wives, daughters, managers, leaders, name it.

The international Women’s day is a time to reflect on progress made, to call for change and to celebrate acts of change and determination by ordinary women who have played a key role in our organisations, communities and country at large.

With a youthful population and the aim to harness the demographic dividend, focusing on women and girls to give them an opportunity to exploit their potential will go a long way in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

It is time to use the opportunity to effectively implement SDGs, especially Goal number 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.

The specific targets are to: End all forms of discrimination against all women and girls everywhere, eliminate all forms of violence against all women and girls in the public and private spheres, including trafficking and sexual and other types of exploitation.

This week brings a lot of joy to me, having been at the helm of women activism since 2002. Women carry a very powerful brand in them, charisma, and very strong intelligence, which sometimes is suppressed by the patriarchy society.

We are at difficult times globally and in my own country Uganda where women are oppressed by killers, drug abusers, spouses, employers, etc.

We must push for zero tolerance to all this and liberate women. In a spell of only four months, women have been on newspaper headlines for being kidnapped, raped and killed for unclear reasons? Why women? This question goes unanswered.

Achieving gender equality and empowering women and girls is the unfinished business of our time, and the greatest human rights challenge in the world. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and I resonate with this statement as it speaks to the description of how a woman is challenged in the current times.

Looking at the rising discrimination against women by fellow women and men at large, I call upon concerted efforts, beginning from individuals, communities, leaders to the world at large.

The global pay gap stands at 23 per cent, rising to 40 per cent in rural areas, whereas most of work done by women goes unrecognised. Evidence has shown that women’s representation in top leadership positions and the boardroom remains low.

I, however, recognise the great work done by the women’s movement, government and many development partners since the Beijing conference in 1996. However, we have a very long way to reach the desired goal.

This year’s International Women’s day comes at the time when there is so much fear regarding security. Women’s bodies have been abused in all forms including sexual harassment at homes, in schools, at workplaces and in gardens; this is overwhelming and we must act now to stop this!

We must transform our societies to bridge the gap in gender inequality and specifically involve men in delivering this agenda. There are women who have stood up and fought for the dignity of women and this week we celebrate their lives.

This year’s International Women’s day will draw attention to the rural women who make up a big percentage of the world population, majority of whom lead in the agricultural section of production.

They do this by ensuring food security for their homes and the societies they live in yet they fare less than the urban women and the rural men due to gender inequalities. As the saying goes in Uganda, men have given up. The big questions remain, but why? Women are toiling more than ever before at all levels to keep their families afloat. Action must begin now to eliminate all forms of discrimination.

Let's noot look at March 8 as the only day to celebrate, but use the whole week to reflect on progress made to date, celebrate the lives of the “SHeroes” who have made a difference in the lives of women.

I join the women activists across the world and the UN Women to act and transform all forms of discrimination for all women and girls.

The author is the managing director of Uganda Health Marketing Group and women activist.




© 2016 Observer Media Ltd