Empowering Women and Building Inclusive Societies
By admin March 18, 2019

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In the United States, March is Women’s History Month and on March 8 the global community celebrates International Women’s Day. This year the 63rd session of the Commission on the Status of Women is taking place at the United Nations Headquarters in New York from March 11-22, 2019. While every day is a great day to celebrate women and strive towards gender equality, March is an important month to highlight what has been accomplished thus far and what more needs to be achieved.

Social protection systems, access to public services, sustainable infrastructure for gender equality, and the empowerment of women and girls are the priority theme of this session. Muniba Mazari, Goodwill Ambassador for UN Pakistan, told the audience of activist, diplomats, and academics at the UN General Assembly Hall that “being a woman has its challenges. Being in a wheelchair is the cherry on top.”

There are many challenges and boundaries that women face to achieving gender equality and empowerment. One that is well known and often highlighted is the gender pay gap. Women working the same job as men are not guaranteed to receive the same amount of pay. Worldwide women tend to occupy low economic status. Women having access to wealth provides a multiplier effect. Higher wages for women can provide more saving, security, and independence, and women tend to use the money to invest in their families, sending their children to school which creates a virtuous cycle of learning, growing and becoming empowered.

Social structures must protect and serve women. Necessary infrastructure, such as access to restroom facilities, makes a huge difference in the development of girls and boys. Girls are more likely to drop out of school if they do not have access to menstrual products and the ability to use the toilet in privacy. Mary Fatiya, a South Sudanese woman, spoke about going long distances to a school where only two toilets were available for about 600 children. Building inclusive societies require a gender focus of all aspects of infrastructure developments and delivery of services.

Lutheran women and men from around the world are advocating for increased partnerships between governments and faith-based organizations to ensure social protection for women. Moderator Dr. Azza Karam from the United Nations Population Fund underscored the significant contribution that FBOs make in providing between 30 to 50 percent of social services to the most vulnerable around the world. Overall, faith-based facilities in Tanzania provide more than 40 percent of health care service in Tanzania, particularly in the most remote areas. Dina Nasser, a health advisor to the Lutheran World Federation- run Augusta Victoria Hospital (AVH) in East Jerusalem showcased the role that AVH plays to improve the well-being of Palestinian families, particularly of women who benefit from high-quality services for early detection and treatment of breast cancer.

Women and girls’ health, education, employment, and ability to access their rights include safe and accessible physical structures of roads, lights, toilets, hospitals, and transportation. Women are half the population, and there should be space for women and girls to live, work and learn as equal members of society. The month of March is more than a celebration of women; it is a benchmark to measure progress made by society towards an inclusive gender-equal world.


For more information:

Annual UN women activists’ summit opens with focus on services, infrastructure

Advocating for women’s access to social protection

International Women’s Day, CSW 63 Address Services, Infrastructure, Social Protection

The journey along the gender road in Cameroon

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