Empowering Women, Empowering Humanity: Picture it!

Future of the world’s beings relies in the hands of the societies of this world which include men, women, girls and boys. Half of the world today is constituted of women and girls. They are those same women and girls who are controlled by diverse powers; and the same who contribute to create the future of the world. When half of the world population is held back from education, decision making, governance, development, and are denied equality, the world will suffer. The future will be insecure.

This year the International Women’s Day theme of the United Nations, shouts out to the world with the words ‘Empower Women’.

“Empowering Women, Empowering Humanity: Picture it!”

2015 is a momentous year to recall some of the major steps taken by different actors during the past years. The Beijing Declaration and the Platform for Action which was adopted by the World Conference on Human Rights in 1995, celebrates its 20th anniversary in September 2015. The Beijing Declaration while endorsed that human rights of women and girl children are inalienable integral and indivisible, it determined to advance the goals of equality, development and peace for all women everywhere in the interest of all humanity.

Also this year, the all programmes that were aimed at the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which allocated its goal three – to promote gender equality and empower women – out of eight goals, and the Education for All [EFA] goals came to an end by completing 15 years of journey to achieve goals.

Journeying through several milestones, the UN and the international communities set another significant stage to aim equality in the world. “Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step It Up for Gender Equality” asks governments to make national commitments to address the challenges that are holding women and girls back from reaching their full potential. ‘Step It Up’ comes at a critical moment in time.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development provides a comprehensive road-map for the future of people and planet. Empowering women and girls is central to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. Passing new laws or strengthening existing ones is one way to ‘Step It Up’. Other actions might include creating programmes to eradicate violence against women and girls, encouraging women’s participation in decision-making, investing in implementation of Policies and National Action Plans for Gender Equality, creating public education campaigns to promote gender equality, and many more. Everyone has a role to play to make gender equality a lived reality by 2030. [UN Women 2015]

In moving forward, we must support women’s empowerment as a transformational force for human rights, for economic growth, for sustainability – and place gender equality at the heart of all development efforts.

Irina Bokova, UNESCO Director-General on International Women’s Day 2015

Empowerment involves people in assuming control or mastery over their lives (Rappaport, 1987) and empowerment is not only the ability to make choices, but it includes the ability to shape as to what choices are on offer. Women’s empowerment does not imply women taking over control of those that were previously held by men, but is a process of transforming gender power relations in a constructive manner, through building the capacity of women to change the unfair power relations into a fair one. The women empowerment is expected to address the causes of gender subordination. The ultimate goal of women’s empowerment is for women themselves to be the active agents of change in transforming gender relations (DFID, 2000).

What is the role of Asian Press Institute in this agenda? What is each of our roles in this journey of gender equality? How could we women contribute to gender equality?

That is what we are doing at API, through our voices.

We have only twelve more years to make this change happen in this planet. Time is up. Start voicing out!

E. Ariyaratnam | Founding President – Asian Press Institute