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WE are UN Women!

Back from my editor now over to you! Comments please :)

On March 8 this year, women around the world – young, old, poor, rich, literate and those barely able to recognise their own names written down – will awaken to the routine of their daily lives, little realising that that Tuesday’s sunrise ought to symbolise, for them all, the promise of renewal in more ways that just a new day dawning.

The women’s lobby will shout. Gender activists will march. For the few with the privilege of knowledge, and a spirit of compassion, the 100th commemoration of International Women’s Day will be cause for action. But for the panic-filled teenage girl who has just found out she’s pregnant, and for the dejected woman who’s just learnt that her husband will be taking a second wife because she bears him no children – the day will likely mark nothing but the continuation of desolation and isolation.

Sadly, while we chant and scream and protest, the many women with whom we should celebrate, and commiserate, remain ignorant of our efforts. Perhaps, because we have become so distanced from their daily plights, they even think we do not to care.

But do we care?

The United Nations has recently constituted a new agency, the UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, or UN Women in short, to coordinate and spearhead the UN’s drive towards gender equality and women’s empowerment.

According to its Executive Director, Michelle Bachelet, UN Women is the largest single UN body ever charged with advancing gender equality. I cheer because I am excited that the inception of such an entity coincides with the 100th year of commemorating a day when women’s issues come to the fore. I cheer because I can look back and see how every woman’s effort over this century-long journey has contributed to today where we have a resourced global agency that cares just about us.

But while I cheer, I fear too.

While UN Women is set to receive at least US$500 million annually, analysts say this will not be enough to cover the body’s proposed local and global advocacy activities. Volunteer Services Overseas (VSO) believes that a more realistic annual budget for the entity should stand at US$1 billion.

With the world still finding its feet after the economic collapse of a few years ago, one wonders if and how this extra funding will be found; and how this will affect efforts towards furthering UN Women’s cause.

Last year, the World Health Organization (WHO) revealed that global maternal mortality rates had fallen by just over a third between 1990 and 2008. In other words, within the lifetime of a young adult, deaths due to pregnancy-related complications fell from 546 000 to 358 000 annually. If that young adult is a woman, it means that her chances of a safe and healthy pregnancy are far greater than they were at the time of her own birth.

While these are commendable figures, they are still far too high, especially bearing in mind that Millennium Development Goal 5 aims, by 2015, to have slashed maternal mortality rates by 75% of their 1990 levels.

There are only four years left to honour the pledges made to the world’s women amid the excitement and promise of a new millennium. These pledges are achievable, if UN Women can make an impact in pushing governments, civil society and the private sector towards their fulfilment.

For too long, the UN’s various agencies have acted and reacted to gender matters haphazardly and without strategic vision. Here, now, is the chance to focus sights.

The road is steep. And the challenge lies with each one of us to travel it each day.

But the questions remain: Do you care that a sister will awaken on that Tuesday unaware that she ought to be celebrated and not castigated? Does it make a difference to your life?

UN Women is not merely an agency based in a far-off place. Each one of us forms its body - its advocates, its facilitators, its supporters. WE are UN Women and we need to make sure our fellow women know this and register their voices rising with the sun not just on Women’s Day, but every day.

Comments

warona's picture

Great!

My dearest Fungai,

This is great news Fungai.As they fall into my ears i become so excited, because at the mentioning of " we are all UN Women " it sensitizes me to realise my position.Thats great, thats why last time we raised our voices on gender equality issues.Indeed we are one, and we ought to be always, not only when certain days comes.Yes we must all contribute, the suffering of our fellow women is our pain and we need to address these situations in a way that will end their legacy.

Yes i love it, we must be compassionate, otherwise without love we are just like a noisy gong!

All the best

Warona

"success will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time " And when confronted conquer with love

I realise that many women don't even know about UN Women - and that is very sad. This organisation is for us and we don't even know this. I want to help spread the word so that we can demand that our needs be met!!!

I hope you will pass on the knowledge to your sisters so that together, we fight for what it ours!!!

from today i live out of my imagination
i am more than my yesterday
tomorrow i plant a new seed
nothing that lies behind easy
nothing that is ahead real
my within is all i have today
*Napo Masheane*

Mei Li's picture

Wonderful!

I love how you ended this article, it's wonderful! And I agree, we are UN Women EVERY DAY. I love the sense of accountability that pours from your words and should, and hopefully will, remind us all to stay rooted daily and ensure the women around us know their true value - not their value in the vast majority of a patriarchal world - but for the earth songs carved into our bones and the moon phases passing through our bodies, for the holiness of a single smile, the beauty inside of us all and our capability to heal ourselves, take care of our families, and RECOGNIZE our entitlement to do such things peacefully, equally, freely.

"...our compassion is the practice of unconditioning." Jakusho Kwong Roshi

Fungai Machirori's picture

Such rich words!

The moon phases passing through our bodies... that's just too good! I love your vivid imagery that describes our beauty so well. THANK YOU!

We are UN Women indeed - I just hope that the entity embraces us as such. I am definitely watching with my eyes open wide!

from today i live out of my imagination
i am more than my yesterday
tomorrow i plant a new seed
nothing that lies behind easy
nothing that is ahead real
my within is all i have today
*Napo Masheane*

Emie Zozobrado's picture

Bravo, Fungai!

Sister, let me quote ... "Sadly, while we chant and scream and protest, the many women with whom we should celebrate, and commiserate, remain ignorant of our efforts." This gives us the reason to resist, insist and persist, Fungai. The desert of ignorance and helplessness is vast and fraught with hardships and obstacles, but now there's reason to celebrate because the biggest oasis is in place in the form of UN Women. World Pulse provides satellite oases all across the globe. At this point, there's reason to celebrate woman power here and there ... because in no time awareness and motivation will close in on those who are still groping in the desert of ignorance and helplessness!

And this one, "These pledges are achievable, if UN Women can make an impact in pushing governments, civil society and the private sector towards their fulfillment." It's no longer an "IF" sister. We are sure we will prevail and fulfill simply because we are working on it right now. UN Women can make an impact because World Pulse and all the other women groups will be behind its every endeavor, its every goal.

In this piece you have aired essential points, not just to think about, but to act on ... and this sharing of awareness and motivation is itself a celebration! All the best...

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