Despite the progresses achieved in addressing gender issues, ongoing discrimination and unequal treatment continue to affect women and girls worldwide. The International Women's Day serves as a reminder to all actors to ensure respect for women’ rights and prevent violence and abuses against women. Still today, there is a need for encouraging a safe and peaceful environment free of repression and violence in which women and girls at all levels can obtain equality and can fully contribute to and benefit from the positive effects of development.
The issues affecting our women and girls range from unequal pay and employment opportunities to personal violations from trafficking for sexual exploitation, to domestic violence and genital mutilation. Therefore, the participation of all actors to challenge the threats posed on women's rights progress is crucially called upon for the betterment of society and for the protection of universal human rights.
On this day, the international community is called to reflect on how women have been not only the best actors to advocate for the respect of their own rights, but also to acknowledge their role as active agents of change and in protecting human rights at large. In fact, throughout various regions of the world, courageous women have and continue to make their voices heard everyday to protect their rights, in advocating for a fair access to education, in ending all forms of discrimination, in fighting violence and abuses against children and other vulnerable groups, and in creating a positive impact on society as a whole.
It took a young fearless activist from Pakistan, Malala Yousafzai, the schoolgirl who was shot by the Taliban for attending classes, to remind us about the undeniable right for education of 57 million children out of school worldwide. Just like Malala, many other women are champions of human rights, especially when discriminating behaviors endanger the lives of innocent people, as for instance Ikponwosa Ero, the first Independent Expert on the enjoyment of human rights by persons with albinism. Ms. Ero’s work is crucial in reaffirming the principles of dignity, equality and opportunity for persons with albinism and victims of ritual attacks. Women are also often the first to break the chain of silence around crimes and murders, alike Kitty Sequino, a young woman from Naples who assisted UNICRI in raising awareness on victims of crime by sharing her story on how the Italian organized crime mistakenly killed her brother. Her clear vision shed light on the needs of the victims and the way forward to prevent crime by engaging civil society and institutions, reducing vulnerabilities and promoting inclusive strategies.
The protection and promotion of women's rights is listed under Goal 5 of the United Nations Sustainable Goals (SDGs). Therefore, the implementation of proper measures to eradicate unequal treatment and to empower women around the world aligns with the goals that the organization strives to achieve by the year 2030. UNICRI, in enforcing its purpose of protecting the basic rights of individuals and in promoting crime prevention, stands by all women and girls worldwide in addressing inequality and the prevention of violence.
“Women are routinely targeted for intimidation and harassment in cyberspace and in real life. In the worst cases, extremists and terrorists build their ideologies around the subjugation of women and girls and single them out for sexual and gender-based violence, forced marriage and virtual enslavement.” said today the UN Secretary-General António Guterres adding that “On International Women’s Day, us all pledge to do everything we can to overcome entrenched prejudice, support engagement and activism, and promote gender equality and women’s empowerment.”
Picture credit: Annie Spratt