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This year International Women’s Day comes in the midst of a rising tide of global action of women speaking out in support of equality, justice and women’s rights.
Through global marches and campaigns, including #MeToo, #NiUnaMenos, or #Ana_kaman, activists demanded attention on issues ranging from sexual harassment and femicide to equal pay and women’s political representation. In some ways the Caribbean led the way in 2016 with the #LifeInLeggings movement , which built on the work of groups such as “Walking Into Walls” has been doing in the Caribbean using social media to raise awareness on how gender based violence impacts the lives of women and girls, and their families.
This year we celebrate the activists who work tirelessly for women’s rights: speaking out, taking action and empowering women to claim their rights and realise their full potential. Caribbean women activists have long led initiatives to end inequality and promote sustainable development. From Nanny of the Maroons in Jamaica, who led enslaved Africans to freedom to Peggy Antrobus, Ida LeBlanc, Roberta Clarke, Hazel Brown and the many others who agitated, innovated and orchestrated for equality to be a reality for all women - domestic workers, women in agriculture, women in politics, women CEOs - who are contributing with the tools that they have to raise a new generation of Caribbean citizens.
More and more women and men are aware of the challenges that women in particular have faced and still face. Rural and urban organising and strategising is the key to us knowing the best ways to address them. Yet women’s economic collectives and community organisations are underfunded, and there is significant scope to increase government support for the empowerment of women’s organisations.
Rural women ensure food security for their communities, build climate resilience and strengthen economies. Yet, gender inequalities, such as discriminatory laws and social norms, combined with a fast-changing economic, technological and environmental landscape restrict their full potential, leaving them far behind men and their urban counterparts.
Too often gender is discussed within a limited space, and not as an issue that intersects with all aspects of development. However, as the UN Secretary General states ‘Achieving gender equality and empowering women and girls is the unfinished business of our time. Gender equality is a human rights issue, but it is also in all our interests: men and boys, women and girls. Gender inequality and discrimination against women harms us all. At this crucial moment for women’s rights, it is time for men to stand with women, listen to them and learn from them.’
This IWD 2018 we say, “The Time is Now” to continue building momentum towards the realisation of women’s human rights which is integral to sustainable social and economic development.
UN Women will continue to work with civil society and governments in the Caribbean to support gender equality, equity and women’s rights.
Join the conversation for International Women’s Day, #UNWOMENCaribMCO #IWD2018, #TimeIsNow