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2018 International Women’s day: YEDI Continues to #PressForProgress in Bridging the Gender Gap

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March 8 every year is #International Women's Day. The day which was first commemorated in 1911, is set aside to celebrate the social, economic, cultural, political role and achievements of women globally. The day brings together global governments, women's organizations, businesses and NGOs together under one banner to reflect on the progressive role of women in the society. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity.


According to The Sun, UK, the day was first marked in New York on February 28, 1909, and was organized by the Socialist Party of America. “A year later, at the International Women's Conference in Copenhagen, Socialist representatives proposed that there be an International Women's Day, inspired by the demonstration in New York,” writes The Sun. “The delegates agreed that an international day is formed as part of a strategy to promote equal rights for women and women's suffrage.”

Hence, the International Women’s Day was “celebrated for the first time in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland on March 19, 1911.” Two years later (in 1913), there was a proposal that the date be moved to March 8 and since then, the IWD has been commemorated on March 8.

As usual, the day is marked with talks, performances, networking events, rallies, marches and other forms of outreaches targeted at highlighting Issues such as gender equality, women liberation, etc. The day will also serve as a platform to measure progress in terms of efforts made at closing the gender gap. Little wonder then that the theme of 2018 International Women’s Day is #PressForProgress, which, in itself, is instructive, considering the reality that “promoting gender equality is now globally accepted as a development strategy for reducing poverty levels among women and men, improving health and living standards and enhancing efficiency of public investments.” (National Gender Policy: 2006). 


According to the National Gender Policy (2006), the attainment of gender equality is not only seen as an end in itself and human rights issue but as a prerequisite for the achievement of sustainable development. Moreover, girls are powerful agents of change. It is against this backdrop that Youth Empowerment and Development Initiative (YEDI) has since 2014 been implementing the SKILLZ Girl project.

The SKILLZ Girl program - a girls-targeted intervention that uses the power of soccer to educate young girls on sexuality and life skills, at the same time empowering them with basic information to make healthy choices about their sexual and reproductive health including HIV prevention. The SKILLZ Girl curriculum strengthens the Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) and educational assets of adolescent girls and young women between the ages of 10 and 19. YEDI trains and manages trusted female mentors (Coaches) aged 18-25 to create a safe atmosphere for learning and to improve girls’ knowledge of SRH issues, including Gender Inequality, HIV/AIDS education, access to HIV Testing Services, (HTS), gender-based violence (GBV), and family planning/teen pregnancy prevention.

The SKILLZ Girl curriculum is divided into ten sessions known as Practices. Practice 3, is on Sex and gender where they are taught, among other things, how to identify ways to change gender stereotypes, myths and misconceptions, self-esteem, etc. in a safe, non-discriminatory environment. Over 12,000 adolescents girls have benefitted from this project since 2014, many thanks to sponsors – MAC AIDS Fund, ExxonMobil, FIFA’s FFH, AWDF, and other partners. 

As we join individuals and organizations all over the world to commemorate this year’s #InternationalWomensDay, we present to you 13 gender equality quotes for you to ponder on. Our goal is that you reflect on these words of wisdom and hope that they translate into action today or someday:

  1. “Achieving gender equality requires the engagement of women and men, girls and boys. It is everyone’s responsibility.” — Ban Ki-moon
  2. “What a country needs to do is be fair to all its citizens - whether people are of a different ethnicity or gender. - Chinua Achebe
  3. “Gender equality is more than a goal in itself. It is a precondition for meeting the challenge of reducing poverty, promoting sustainable development and building good governance.” — Kofi Annan
  4. “Equality is not just the right thing to do. It’s smart economics. How can an economy achieve full potential if it ignores, sidelines, or fails to invest in half its population?” –Robert Zoellick
  5. “A woman is human. She is not better, wiser, stronger, more intelligent, more creative, or more responsible than a man. Likewise, she is never less. Equality is a given. A woman is human.” ― Vera Nazarian, The Perpetual Calendar of Inspiration
  6. “If women are expected to do the same work as men, we must teach them the same things.” ― Plato, The Republic
  7. “A gender-equal society would be one where the word ‘gender’ does not exist: where everyone can be themselves.” — Gloria Steinem
  8. “How important it is for us to recognize and celebrate our heroes and she-roes!” ― Maya Angelou
  9. “It is time that we all see gender as a spectrum instead of two sets of opposing ideals.” ― Emma Watson
  10. “Gender equality will only be reached if we are able to empower women.” - Michelle Bachelet
  11. “Equality is not a concept. It’s not something we should be striving for. It’s a necessity. Equality is like gravity. We need it to stand on this earth as men and women, and the misogyny that is in every culture is not a true part of the human condition. It is life out of balance, and that imbalance is sucking something out of the soul of every man and woman who’s confronted with it. We need equality. Kinda now.” ― Joss Whedon
  12. “One of the factors a country's economy depends on is human capital. If you don't provide women with adequate access to healthcare, education and employment, you lose at least half of your potential. So, gender equality and women's empowerment bring huge economic benefits.” - Michelle Bachelet
  13. “Education bestows on women a disposition for a lifelong acquisition of knowledge, values, attitudes, competence and skills. The question of gender disparity in education on the African continent has long historical antecedents.” Acha Chigozie Kelechi

Let’s take this discussion further: what does gender equality mean to you? How will you # PressForProgress? In every moment, no matter how small, we can all #PressForProgress. Join in the conversation: let us know what action you will take in the comments section; use the hashtags #PressForProgress and #IWD2018 on Twitter and Instagram and tag @Yedinaija

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