It’s that time of year again, when the world spends one whole day (theoretically, at least) celebrating the triumphs and advocating for the empowerment of women. That’s right – March 8 is International Women’s Day!
And while there is definitely much to celebrate, there is also much to contemplate. Why? Because, in 2015, women around the globe continue to face inequality – in the workplace, home, political sphere, health arena…and pretty much across the board. It’s happening around every corner in every single country on Earth.
It’s why women hold only 21.4 percent of the world’s parliamentary seats; why 60 percent of chronically hungry people are women and girls; why 800 women die every day from preventable causes during pregnancy and childbirth; and why 225 million women aren’t using contraceptives even though they don’t want to get pregnant.
So, the question is: What can we do about it? Closing the gender gap is no easy feat. And, boy, is it a multifaceted effort. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try.
Certainly, ensuring women around the world have reproductive freedom – the ability to choose pregnancy or contraception, childbirth or safe abortion, without outside pressure or influence – is one of the the best places to start.
That’s because being able to decide whether, when, and with whom to have children doesn’t just help women achieve their goals – although that’s a fantastic reason to support it. Reproductive freedom is good for everyone.
Planned pregnancies are safer. Planned babies are born healthier. And planned families are able to invest more in their children’s educations, with girls more likely to finish school. Not to mention, entire countries would experience accelerated economic growth and natural resources would catch a much-needed break.
Providing women and girls around the world with access to affordable contraceptives and voluntary family planning services is truly a win-win situation!
So this International Women’s Day let’s speak up for the empowerment of women and girls. Because none of us can fully succeed if only half of us ever get the chance.