Celebrating Women’s Week With The UN Theme for 2012: Connecting Girls: Empowering & Inspiring Futures.

Today, I was honored to speak at the International Women’s Day annual breakfast hosted and moderated by the Hon. Dr. Hedy Fry, P.C, M.P which focused on the UN theme for 2012: Connecting Girls: Empowering and Inspiring Futures.  To set the stage, the speaker panel consisted of 3 high empowered advocates eagerly anticipating questions posed from a room full of eager women of all ages and backgrounds.

 

Speaker Panel:

Dr. Hedy Fry, P.C, M.P (moderator and host)

Jen Sung, Youth Outreach Coordinator for “Out in Schools”

Sarah Jamieson, RUN4ACAUSE on behalf of supporting Free the Children/ We

Samantha Thompson, Girl Guides of Canada/Global

Women’s equality worldwide begins with the girl. Around the world many women and girls are still denied their basic human rights; the right to an education, the right to choose when or how to have children, the right to have a voice in their community.

Thursday, March 8th 2012 was international women’s day! A day where we take time to celebrate the women and men who strive for equal measure. On this day we not only celebrate how far we have come, but how far we still have to go.

International Women’s Day has been observed since in the early 1900′s, as a time of great expansion and turbulence in the industrialized world that saw booming population growth and the rise of radical ideologies.

Since its birth in the socialist movement, International Women’s Day has grown to become a global day of recognition and celebration across developed and developing countries alike, yet it was a long struggle to do so. It seems that we have only started to scrap the surfance of changing global ideals and dis-empowering ideologies towards women.

For decades, IWD has grown from strength to strength annually. For many years the United Nations has held an annual IWD conference to coordinate international efforts for women’s rights and participation in social, political and economic processes.

In 1993, the UN Women Canada (formerly known as UNIFEM Canada) was founded with the sole vision to focus on the equality of women and to support the advancement of gender equality in line with national priorities.

This IWD, in New York City nearly 400 chief executives worldwide  publicly declared their commitment to implementing the Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs) over the last two years, as UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and UN Women Executive Director Michelle Bachelet highlighted at the 4th Annual Equality Means Business Event. But will it be enough?

 “Across the region, men and women have pressed bravely and unequivocally for social justice, dignity, and a say in the decisions that shape their lives. Their progress toward these goals will move only as fast as their progress in empowering women.” – Amat Al Alim Alsoswa – UNDP Director of the Regional Bureau for Arab States”

Last year our IWD Un theme was connected to “equal access to education, training,  science and technology.” This year, our 2012 theme focuses on “empowering rural women” and the UN Women’s theme focuses on “connecting girls: empowering and inspiring futures.” It is critical that we continue to raise awareness and support for women globally.

It is the sole reason why I have dedicated my time, energy and resources to raising funds and the understanding behind rural women and the challenges they face. Thursday marked 365 days of my 365 challenge; which I then extended to 439 days!

Phil Borges Photography Tangail Bangladesh

In the” UN Women’s Report: Facts & Figures: Rural Women & the MGDs”:

”Faced with a lack of services and infrastructure, rural women carry a great part of the burden of providing water and fuel for their households. In rural areas of Guinea, for example, women spend more than twice as much time fetching wood and water per week than men, while in Malawi they spend over eight times more than men on the same tasks. Girls in rural Malawi also spend over three times more time than boys fetching wood and water. Collectively, women from Sub-Saharan Africa spend about 40 billion hours a year collecting water.”

UN Women is one of a number of United Nations agencies charged with supporting countries in moving forward on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The eight goals, adopted by the international community in 2000, set targets for 2015 on eradicating poverty, achieving universal primary education, promoting gender equality and empowering women, reducing child mortality, improving maternal health, combating HIV and AIDS and other diseases, ensuring environmental sustainability, and providing financing for development.

Fast Facts: Rural Women & The MGD’s:

  • Rwandahas 56% women parliamentarians  – a world record!
  • Almost 70 percent of employed women inSouth Asia and more than 60 percent of employed women in Sub-Saharan Africa work in agriculture
  • On average, women make up about 43 percent of the agricultural labour force in developing countries.
  • Evidence indicates that if these women had the same access  to productive resources as  men, they could increase yields on their farms by 20 to 30 percent, raising total agricultural output in developing countries by 2.5 to 4 percent, in turn reducing the number of hungry people in the world by 12 to 17 percent.
  • InPakistan, a half-kilometre increase in the distance to school decreases girls’ enrolment by 20 percent
  • An extra year of primary school increases girls’ eventual wages by 10-20 percent, encourages girls to marry later and have      fewer children, and makes them less likely to experience violence.
  • 875 million people are illiterate in the bottom billion. Two-thrids are women, because of inadequate access to education      in rural areas.
  • Between 1990 and 2009, all the regions of the world saw a significant decrease in under-five mortality rates, with some developing regions reaching or approaching 2015 targets.

These are just a few of the facts when it comes to establishing equal rights for women and girls. Rural women face more challenges than urban women, simply because of being too far from water, school, health care and basic life essentials. This is where the most works needs to be done, as well as, where the greatest opportunity and potential stem from. Women are our untapped resource!

 

What I am Doing To Support the WEP and MGDs for Women Globally:

RUN4CAUSE supports and champions the visions of great organizations worldwide. This May is of no exception. On May 20th Vancouver will host the third annual CARE Canada and the Walk In Her Shoes Campaign.  This year I am asking Vancouverites to not only walk or run 6km with me on May 20th (our Vancouver WIHS event), but to spend the next roughly 3 months connecting with us online (facebook and this blog) to learn and understand the complexities women and girls still face day to day.

Whether you support CARE Canada or another local or global organization or cause, this walk is for anyone who advocates for women and children. This walk is about immersion. I encourage you to bring your organizations banners, your advocacy groups, freinds and familes and stand (well….walk or run) in solidarity with me and celebrate the women empowerment goals!

Women Empowered & Walk in Her Shoes: SAVE THE DATE

Friday May 18 @7pm- 10pm @ Denman Cinemas. Join us for a movie night and panel discussion. This event will be the pre event warm up and pep ralley for ourMay 20th 101km. See all 4 short documentaries, engage with our speaker panel, and network in the “market” (aka lobby) and don’t forget the silent auction and draw prizes.

101km Walk in Her Shoes Event for CARE Canada: May 20th  from 6am – 9pm, Join me on our 101km route, divided into 8 legs (8 districts) with 6km, 12km, 24km and 42km markers! Choose your mileage, choose your district and start fundraising! www.care.ca or email Sarah Jamieson at [email protected]

I hope all of you had a wonderful International Women’s Day and I hope to see you our on May 20th!

 

About the Author: Sarah Jamieson

Sarah Jamieson has written 155 posts on this site.

Sarah is the owner and head movement coach at Moveolution; a Vancouver based consulting company focused on the integration of movement and recovery science. Bridging the gaps between the clinical and performance fields Sarah’s passion stems from lifelong passion of Yoga, Jujitsu, and Qi Gong; which she integrates into her coaching practice. She is a full time social change maker, a ‘run-a-muker’ of everything outdoors and repeatedly engages in random acts of compassion.

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