Since 1911, International Women’s Day has been celebrated around the world. Various themes and programs have targeted specific areas where change is necessary. Much progress has been made, but we can still do much more.
This year’s theme -- Inspiring Change -- is a simple but very clear indicator of what can be done to make sure that the next generation of women grow up with a fuller reach to impact their world and explore their innate potential. What can you do to inspire change? Get involved. There is an incredible array of organizations, campaigns and advocacy groups dedicated to empowering women. Social media has made the world even smaller, with people joining common causes from around the world, connected by purpose.
We must all become more involved. Many people do not act because, quite simply, they do not know that these situations exist. Learn about the laws that govern women where you live, find out statistics, discover groups that support and advocate for women in your locality and find out how you can help them. Everyone can do something.
Today, we stand together to celebrate women around the world. We take a justified pause to acknowledge and honor women who are making strides, breaking glass ceilings and achieving great things. But even as we acknowledge them, we cannot rest on our laurels. We must work together to inspire change, to take it a step further and provoke change, so that in the years to come, we will have many, many more women to celebrate.
The world’s population is growing rapidly and strides are being made every day in science, medicine, education, policy and many more areas of human endeavor. These strides should impact both genders equally, but, sadly, that is not the case. Statistics show that even though women make up more than 50 percent of the global population, less than 20 percent of parliamentary seats are filled by females. Women make up 80 percent of those displaced by conflict and are often victims of sexual violence. Yet, they are largely excluded from formal peace proceedings -- women have been involved in peace negotiations only once in 13 times since 1992.
Women’s relevance on the economic front cannot be denied. Women produce up to 80 percent of food in developing nations, but still have difficulty accessing funding, technical support and even ownership of the land they work on and are likely to be paid less. In education, 10 million more girls than boys are out of school and women make up two thirds of the world’s population that cannot read. Women are often paid much less than men in the same job functions and less likely to be acknowledged and promoted in the workplace.
Shocking as these statistics are, they are an indication of the reality that many live in. These facts might seem surprising to us, but the truth is that we exist in a world where many women do not have basic rights to empower themselves educationally, economically or in matters relating to policy and governance. Despite all the progress that has been made over the years, women must continue to fight for their rights and have their voices be heard in the boardrooms as well as in the public squares.
We cannot forget the barriers that women had to overcome and we must celebrate what women have accomplished throughout history. It is our duty to remember that we as women must continue to help, mentor and teach future generations of women as they embark upon life's challenges and obstacles.
With these thoughts in mind, please remember to say “thank you” to the women who have impacted your life. Saying thank you goes a long way as we pay tribute to those women who have helped pave the way for our generation of women. Last but not least, as an African woman, I am proud of the strides many African women have made to forge ahead and break barriers, but for every one woman who does, 100 are still afraid to make that bold move, and I want to use the opportunity to reach out and say please find it within you to live your dreams. We must never give up on what we truly believe in.
Mo Abudu is CEO & Executive Chairman of Ebony Life TV, based in Nigeria.