“Gender equality!” The crowd screamed. “Enough is enough” the crowd shouted. “This is our call-equality for all” the crowd demanded.
The Commission on the Status of Women’s (CSW) 59th session was launched on March 9th. Simultaneously, The Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (Beijing+20) marked their 20th anniversary. The main challenges and progress of Beijing+20 will be discussed, as it is evident that gender equality is still an issue that we cannot seem to resolve.
To celebrate the anniversary and remind the world that women are still fighting for equality, UN Women initiated the Step IT Up For Gender Equality walk on March 8, 2015 on International Women’s Day to promote gender equality for all. The day was inspirational and full of energy as women and men gathered together and walked. And as they did, I asked them why they were there.
Naina H. who is from Morocco, mentioned that violence against women is a prevalent issue that her country has, where “legislation is discriminatory, penalty code, child marriage and child workers are still a problem”. Naina, like many other women, wants to live in a society where discrimination does not take place. “I am so honored to be here with all these women walking towards change.”
Representing FAANOS Magazine, Waheed who is from Afghanistan, is walking for women’s equality and elimination of violence against women in Afghanistan. As a man, Waheed recognizes the many problems that women face and said that “women are half of our nation’s body, we are working hard with international community and Afghanistan government to end inequalities and violence against women”
Safiye from NYU-CGA group is from Turkey and mentioned that the biggest problem her country is facing is female inequality, which causes “obstacles to democracy, security and economic instability”. Her message for the world is “to start perceiving women as human beings” she also appealed for more men to be involved in women’s issues and be an active part of such discussions.
Patricia, representing REPEM’s organization strongly defended the rights for women in sexual reproduction stating that “we are Latin Americans promoting educational rights for women”
Shirley, from Jamaica expressed her concerns that “women are so abused and the time for change is now. We need change. I was a domestic worker for 30 years, and I was very abused. Now I am a leader to domestic workers union Caribbean domestic workers network and Jamaican workers union.”
Vidor from Sweden who represented fathers at the walk said,“ Men and women need to be equal, we need to have society based on love and equality and share power of equality instead of having power imbalance.” Sweden is already one of the leading countries for gender equality in all forms and has presented itself as a country for other to emulate in terms of its vast progress in this area of great concern.
Gaila, who is 18 years old, is a youth representative from the United States. She deeply supports feminism and for all of us to “ look at the world around and realize that things are not equal.” Gaila called upon privileged individuals who have money but are ignorant towards issues of gender inequality. Arguing that “they have no idea what is happening around them”. Similarly, Grace who is 17 years old confirmed that feminists are not aggressive we just want to be equal.
Lovelyn, from Nigeria representing the 100 Women lobby group made her point saying: “I am in this march, because I want fairness and equality for women especially in the government. In Nigeria at the moment we have only 7% women representation in the parliament and that’s not good enough. We want more”
Lovelyn concluded, “I am marching here today for equal representation in decision-making in Nigeria and the rest of the world.”
Syed M. is from Kashmir, and he is the 81st man to join the HeForSHe campaign, which launched in September. “In my country Human Rights violations happen all the time, it allows women to be killed for honor. It is up to us to change that and to stand up for what its right. If it’s not us then who, if it’s not now, when?
The Women’s Day March was more than celebrating International Women’s Day, it marked a continued push for action by all genders. It was also clear that the event was personal for many people there. Despite all of us having a different gender, being from different countries, different organizations, having different ages, job occupations and even experiences, we were all united. We all can relate to each other and have the same goals. We all know how it feels to be discriminated against. It is time for change to happen as more of us demand it.
“What do we want?”
“When do we want it?”