To be truly transformative, the post-2015 development agenda must prioritize gender equality and women’s empowerment. The world will never realize 100 percent of its goals if 50 percent of its people cannot realize their full potential.
– Ban Ki-Moon, United Nations Secretary-General
March 8 is International Women’s Day, a day to honor women around the world, reflect on progress made and call for continued focus on achieving gender equality. The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is “Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step It Up for Gender Equality.”
This year’s theme is focused on accelerating the 2030 Agenda—especially around the concrete commitments on gender equality, women’s rights and women’s empowerment—and building momentum for the effective implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
International Women’s Day will highlight Goal 5 of the SDGs: achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls. Women have a critical role to play in all of the SDGs, with many targets specifically recognizing women’s equality and empowerment as both the objective and as part of the solution. Goal 5 is known as the stand-alone gender goal because it is dedicated to achieving these ends.
While International Women’s Day celebrates the achievements in women’s equality, much progress still needs to be made. Women and girls make up more than half the world’s population and they are often more deeply impacted than men and boys by poverty, climate change, food insecurity, lack of healthcare and global economic crises. Even though it is primarily women who provide food for their families, they account for more than 60 percent of the world’s hungry.
Deep legal and legislative changes are needed to ensure women’s rights around the world. While 143 countries guaranteed equality between men and women in their Constitutions by 2014, another 52 have not taken this step. In many nations, gender discrimination is still woven through legal and social norms.
In addition, violence against women is pervasive, affecting women in all countries, even those that have made significant progress in other areas. Worldwide, 35 percent of women have experienced either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence.
Women have a right to equality in all areas. That’s why The Hunger Project works to empower women and girls in all of our program areas, supporting women to help build their capacity. In India, The Hunger Project builds leadership skills among women who have been systematically denied information, freedom of motion and a voice in decision making. We support empowering the women electorate, encouraging voter participation among women and the election of women leaders to all panchayat (village council) seats.
At our epicenters across Africa, tens of thousands of women food farmers are increasing their incomes and strengthening their clout in the marketplace through our Microfinance Program, training, credit and savings program. In 2015, nearly 73,000 women and men were participating in this program, with more than 80 percent of loans distributed to women. Our Women’s Empowerment Program throughout Africa and specialized animator trainings worldwide empower women to seek positions of leadership and train all of our partners, women and men, to take responsibility for improving lives in their communities.
And, to support us achieving the most impact possible, our new Women’s Empowerment Index is designed to measure progress in the multi-dimensional aspects of women’s empowerment, which will better inform and improve our programs that target empowering women.
Overcoming gender inequality is absolutely critical to achieving the end of hunger. On March 8, join us in celebrating International Women’s Day and demand equality for all.