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New Zealand celebrates International Women’s Day


2 March 2015

New Zealand celebrates International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day is a day for celebrating women’s economic, political and social achievements around the globe. It is a day to acknowledge women’s successes, while recognising that there is still a long way to go in ending the inequalities women continue to face.

Without a doubt, women’s visibility across a number of countries has increased: there are more women in boardrooms and an increase in legislative rights for women,. But overall women still remain significantly behind men in their economic achievements, decision-making powers and in many facets of social life. Women are still not equally represented in business or politics, and globally the statistics on violence against women remain incredibly high. And, women and girls’ access to services such as education and healthcare remain markedly behind that of men.

In September 2014, British actor and UN Goodwill Ambassador, Emma Watson gave an impassioned speech about gender equality at the United Nations. . As part of her message, she launched the United Nations ‘HeForShe’ global campaign, which aims to get men and boys on board to become advocates for change and pledge their support for political, economic and social equality for women and girls.

Recently Turkish men took to the streets wearing miniskirts to show their support for women’s rights after the brutal murder of a local young woman. Despite massive demonstrations of support for women across the country, their campaign has been mocked and shown no support by the Turkish President who allegedly said that women and men cannot be put on equal footing - proof there is still much work to be done to achieve gender equality.

Increasingly around the world, girls’ access to education is recognised as a major contributing factor to achieving gender equality and removing the barriers to poverty.

Malala Yousafzai remains one of the most well-known public voices advocating for girls to be educated. Becoming the world’s youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize at just 17 years old, Malala has launched the Malala Fund with a focus on long-term systematic change for girls and empowering girls through education.

Global movement, The Girl Effect, affirms that educating girls makes economic sense. An extra year of primary school education boosts a girl’s eventual wages by 10-20 per cent, while an extra year of secondary school adds 15-25 per cent to her wage. An educated girl will re-invest 90 per cent of her future income in her family through things like education and family healthcare, whereas a man will, on average, only invest 35 per cent of his income in his family.

Local New Zealand charity, Daya Trust, has been working in India and New Zealand for the past six years empowering women and girls through education. Like many others around the world, they see education as a human right which allows a girl to become her own decision-maker, gives her the ability to navigate around existing barriers, and allows the benefits of her education to reach far beyond herself - to her family, friends, future children and community.

Daya Trust’s fundraising celebration - the ANZ International Women’s Day Cocktail Evening - is being held in Wellington on 5 March. More information is available at www.dayatrust.com.

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