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.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF IWD
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).
PROMOTING GENDER EQUALITY: THE YEDI SKILLZ GIRL SOLUTION
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:
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