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WE are UN women!

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 than 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.

This article is part of a writing assignment for Voices of Our Future, which is providing rigorous web 2.0 and new media training for 30 emerging women leaders. We are speaking out for social change from some of the most unheard regions of the world.

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Comments

LilyBrook's picture

You are such an amazing

You are such an amazing writer, and such a strong voice for women around the world. Thank you for sharing, Fungai! Please continue to write... your words and thoughts are so powerful.

Fungai Machirori's picture

You have no idea

Lily, you have no idea what you kind words mean to me. Such warming and reassuring energy. Thank you very much :)

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*

Fungai Machirori's picture

I will continue!!

I promise to continue ALWAYS!!!!! For as long as I breathe and can see far enough to hold a pen to a sheet of paper, I will write!

Thank you

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*

AchiengNas's picture

We are the UN Women!

Dear Fungai,

Thank you for this powerful Message to women worldwide. It is salvation to have a sense of belonging, if every woman knew their rights and strength, March 8 would be a day of Celebrations plainly. Lets put hands together, preach to the non-informed women for the greater change through the eyes of women. We are UN Women!

Thank you once again.

Beatrice

I believe everybody has the potential to live a better life. Given the Opportunity, Education and Motivation ANYONE can become someone admirable. Nobody is a NOBODY, everybody is SOMEBODY.

Fungai Machirori's picture

Thanks Bea!

Yes, let's hope that this new entity will make us all feel safe :)
Hugs

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*

AchiengNas's picture

We are the UN Women!

Dear Fungai,

Thank you for this powerful Message to women worldwide. It is salvation to have a sense of belonging, if every woman knew their rights and strength, March 8 would be a day of Celebrations plainly. Lets put hands together, preach to the non-informed women for the greater change through the eyes of women. We are UN Women!

Thank you once again.

Beatrice

I believe everybody has the potential to live a better life. Given the Opportunity, Education and Motivation ANYONE can become someone admirable. Nobody is a NOBODY, everybody is SOMEBODY.

SAsong's picture

Indeed we are UN Women

I enjoyed the flow of your voice throughout the piece!! Excellent!! We all have a vested interest in the future of UN Women because all their decisions will affect us inclusive of others who may not be aware of its existence. We may have a long way to go...but YES WE CAN as long as we work together and support this new entity in our various spheres of influence.

Fungai Machirori's picture

Yes we can!

We can but we need the resources and the commitment. I just hope that governments and the international community see this!

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*

TERESA's picture

APPRECIATION

HI Fungai,

Thanks, keep it up!

Teresa

TERESA KAGECHA i would like to use the new password and email to participate in the WORLDPULSE VIEWS - COMMUNITY PARTICIPATION MOBILISING

Fungai Machirori's picture

Thank you!

You also keep up the good work. Women hold up half the sky :)

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*

Farona's picture

You wrote with grace and

You wrote with grace and passion, Fungi !

I might one of those crazy ones staying up late to watch the UN women launch event! I also followed the discussions on Arab women and today, women and youth. Both the sessions were inspiring !

UN women is an opportunity for us women to increase the flow of information and mobilize resources directly.

What if we had UN women ten years ago ? what will happen in ten years time ?

Fungai Machirori's picture

10 years from now...

Farona, 10 years from now, I really hope that UN Women will have changed something somehow... Otherwise, all the excitement that we share now will have been for nothing... I don't want that my sister.

Let us keep pushing the people in power to meet our demands. After the celebration of launching this entity, let's get back to work!

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*

Tami Briggs's picture

YES! We are U.N. Women

You wrote your third VOF assignment in such a riveting fasion ... excellent job! Please keep writing, challenging us all to do more, better. Thank you for sharing your voice, calling us to action, making the world a better place for women. We need your beautiful voice...

Tami Briggs
Therapeutic Harpist
www.MusicalReflections.com
www.WomenAsHealers.com

Fungai Machirori's picture

I won't stop ever!

Writing is in my blood so be rest assured that I will never stop speaking :)

Thank you thank you for those kind words. They make what I do worth it! I am sending you peace and a bit of the sun coming through my window :)

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*

Fungai Machirori's picture

Thank you!

Your words are so kind... and yet they remind me of what my purpose is on this planet. Thank you!

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*

Caitlyn's picture

Beautiful

Thank yuo Fungai for this incredible piece of writing. It left me with shivers because your call to action was so powerful. Keep speaking and shouting and cheering and hoping - you can be the difference in the world. Love, Caitlyn

Fungai Machirori's picture

The difference maker

You can be the difference in the world - wow, that is a powerful line Caitlyn. I am truly humbled by it. Thank you for your motivation and inspiration :) Take care

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*

Tami Briggs's picture

Featuring you on my blog!

Hi Fungai,
After reviewing your story for VOF, I decided to post a blog entry today featuring you and International Women's Day. The link is www.WomenAsHealers.com. Your story is SO well done!!
Warmly,

Tami Briggs
Therapeutic Harpist
www.MusicalReflections.com
www.WomenAsHealers.com

Fungai Machirori's picture

Tami :)

:) I am still smiling. I read your comment on Women's Day, on a day when no one around me actually remembered that it was Women's Day. I felt quite forlorn and then I opened the link to your site and heard the calming music. I thought, at least I have my cyber sisters out there celebrating with me! Thank you :)

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*

Rachael Maddock-Hughes's picture

Call to Action

Dear Fungai,

I love your Op-Ed because it feels like a call to action--a call to remember our sisters who are not blessed with knowledge and the power to educate themselves; a call to action for the UN to do as much as they can as soon as they can; and a call to action to remember how far we have come but to not forget how far we have left to go. Your piece is both realistic and solutions oriented at the same time. Way to go!

Cheers,

Rachael

"In every human heart there are a few passions that last a lifetime. They're with us from the moment we're born, and nothing can dilute their intensity." Rob Brezny

Fungai Machirori's picture

Thanks Rachael

The thing with writing is that often, one can get carried away by the deceptiveness of words, by saying things that are not actionable. I am always trying not to fall into that trap...

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*

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