International Women’s Day 2021: Choose to Challenge

International Women's Day 2021 #ChooseToChallenge. Illustration © Sbego2000 |

This year’s International Women’s Day comes as the world remains steeped in the COVID-19 pandemic and its staggering impacts on women – from being pushed into poverty, to loss of jobs as the informal economy shrinks, to an alarming spike in domestic violence and the unpaid care burden. Covid-19 has exacerbated the gender gap.
Women are almost twice as likely to become unemployed during the Covid-19 crisis, and trends indicate that the pandemic will vastly increase the poverty rate amongst women. In the US, female workforce is now the lowest since 1988. Latino, Asian and black women are worst affected in that order. Yesterday, the US President announced that the impact of Covid-19 on women is ”a national emergency”.
UN’s theme for the Day is “Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world”. It asserts that “We need women’s representation that reflects all women and girls in all their diversity and abilities, and across all cultural, social, economic and political situations. This is the only way we will get real societal change that incorporates women in decision-making as equals and benefits us all.” 
The campaign theme of civil society groups for IWD 2021 ”Choose To Challenge” is powerful and action-focused. A challenged world is an alert world. And from challenge comes change. Gender inequality remains a burning issue, one which requires our immediate attention and action. 
The statement on Women’s Contribution to Culture of Peace issued during the Beijing Conference concluded by reaffirming that “Only together, women and men in parity and partnership, can we overcome obstacles and inertia, silence and frustration and ensure the insight, political will, creative thinking and concrete actions needed for a global transition from the culture of violence to the culture of peace.” As Malala said aptly, “We realize the importance of our voice when we are silenced” (Theirworld, 2013)
We need to understand that “Feminism isn’t about making women strong. Women are already strong. It’s about changing the way the world perceives that strength.” Feminism is a smart policy which includes whole populations, uses all potential and leaves no one behind.
This is a Day for the humanity as a whole. I am proud to be a feminist … all of us need to be. That is how we make our planet a better place to live for all.

H.E. Anwarul K. Chowdhury is Former Secretary-General of the United Nations as Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States. The Ambassador serves as a member of the ECPC Executive Committee.


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