In modern society today, we are encouraged to be self-seeking with mottos such as “Fend for yourself,” “Focus on you,” or one that’s often translated to advice – “The only person you should worry about is yourself.” We become so unconcerned with universal ethics and absorbed with solely making our own lives better, that we overlook the intrinsic value of our human connection to one another. Our minds centre around what happens to us, leaving very little space for understanding, compassion and inclusivity. An isolated thought that regards itself as a separate existence from the rest. Consequently, we miss the opportunities to see others and help where we ought to. The biggest irony is that the good we give out contributes to the circle of life and comes back to us. The fundamental truth is that we are infinitely interconnected and the future demands the generosity of our global unity.
We live in a time when we require our humanity as a guide for change more than ever so we must remind ourselves of what’s important and what truly matters beyond individual concerns. We must remember that the atrocities and difficulties that present themselves can happen to anyone. Climate change, poverty, economic crisis, war, oppression, or discrimination are never just confined to one type of person. The abject challenge of rising inequality affects us all, no matter who you are. To ignore or dismiss them because we expect it has no direct effect on us, means we do a disservice to humankind – one that threatens sustainable development. And our well-being – everything from health to fulfillment – depends on our collective endeavour.
We have the ability to help each other protect every basic human right to dignity, security and liberty. The height of freedom that we have is unthinkable for millions of women and children, especially those in rural communities, around the globe. There are women who live in consequential danger and face varying degrees of abuse – emotionally, sexually, socially, economically, physically and psychologically. Gender injustice can be loud, subtle or insidious, happening right under our noses. A violation that can take place anywhere; in our workforces, in businesses, in schools, in policies, in media, in countries with civil conflict, and in the most dangerous place for many women – their own homes.
It is a crime against humanity, one that impairs the woman, families, communities and future generations. Thereupon destruction and burden so unacceptable with enormous consequences that cannot be ignored. It is up to us – women and men – to recognize the unjust disadvantage and treat social problems in the eyes of a whole population.
We can continue our commitment to putting these widespread prejudices front and centre while approaching them holistically with all the urgency it deserves. This means tackling unconscious biases, being mindful in relationships and interactions (archaic attitudes such as encouraging someone to “man up” or placing the blame on the victim interrupt progress), advocating for major societal changes and policies, empowering women and children to use their voice through education and empathy, shifting perspectives that reinforce routine harassment and violence, supporting vital systems with comprehensive and responsive services, promoting a culture of equitable treatment, mobilizing women-led responses to crisis, contributing in positive affirmative action, activating community-based initiatives that focus on effective prevention, integrating men and boys’ participation, and renewing our core belief of global equality in everyday human efforts. This responsibility belongs to each of us.
To that end, we need to work strongly together and be deliberate about creating a just society – one where women and children have an equal chance to thrive. We must work toward systemic change by coming together as a community to strengthen the chain of parity, advance essential women’s rights and honour the common values of humanity. The fight to end injustice is one that asks of you and me.
Today, on International Women’s Day, as we honour the powerful achievements of women, I ask that you go deep into the self and rather than seeing a you in singularity, extend grace, expand out and see yourself a part of this world – a world that is shared with an army of sisters, near and far, and undoubtedly a better place when women live together in harmony.
Whether you are celebrating, marching or uniting, share the hope with a survivor and help amplify attention to areas where improvement in women’s rights and equal, accessible opportunity is still needed.
Please donate generously to Women’s Habitat, Shelter & Outreach. Women’s Habitat offers a safe and confidential location with all the services a woman/girl needs to make a new life for herself/and her children. Their Outreach Centre offers access to many programs from group support and activities to intensive individual counselling.