How youth can take action to ensure Gender Equality
“Gender equality is not only a women’s issue, it is a human rights’ issue that requires my participation. I commit to take action against all forms of violence and discrimination faced by women and girls", declared UNASUR’s Secretary General, Ernesto Samper, when he joined the “He for She” movement.
As a matter of fact, we are talking not only about a fundamental human right, but also about a necessary condition for a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable world.
Although the world has achieved progress towards gender equality and women’s empowerment, they continue to suffer discrimination in every part of the world and are still victims of violence. According to UN Women, the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, 35 percent of women worldwide have experienced physical or sexual violence either by a partner or a non-partner at some point in their lives. Also, up to 50 percent of sexual assaults are committed against girls under the age of 16.
The first sexual experience of 30 percent of women was forced. The percentage is even higher among those who were under 15 at the time of their sexual initiation.
At least 200 million women and girls alive today have undergone female genital mutilation in 30 countries with representative data on prevalence. In most of these countries, the majority of girls were cut before turning 5.
Almost 750 million women and girls alive today worldwide were married before 18. Child marriage is more common in Western and Central Africa, where 4 in 10 girls were married before age 18. Child marriage often results in early pregnancy and social isolation, interrupts schooling, limits the girl’s opportunities and increases her risk of experiencing domestic violence.
So, what can we do as Millennials to achieve gender equality and ensure that future generations' women won't face violence and discriminations that have been perpetrated way too long?
Here are a few suggestions:
1) You yourself can join social media campaigns, organize gender equality events in your class, school or community and create a blog where young people can share personal experiences about gender (in)equality. A great example of youth engagement here is “Calabar Youth Council for Women's Rights” (CYCWR), an NGO advocating for women’s rights in Nigeria, founded in 2015 by Kennedy Ekezie Joseph.
2) Establish a regular conversation in your family, school or work environment about gender roles in household management, careers and women empowerment.
3) You can volunteer in an NGO to work with disadvantaged girls and train them on how to undertake social and economic rehabilitation. You can also educate them about reproductive health and hygiene, especially those living in rural areas.
4) Support one-stop shops, established by states and foundations to help women avoid domestic violence, abuse and discrimination within their community or work environment.
5) Support awareness campaigns about child marriage, genital mutilation or volunteer to educate young girls about their rights.
6) Be a source of motivation to other youths in taking action towards gender equality.
Even the smallest thing can help, so don’t hesitate and take action! And if you are already involved with any kind of initiative that aims at achieving this SDG, join our competition here: https://goo.gl/5LUfP2 .
Cover cartoon credit: Sergio Algeri/GYV