Globally, November 25 is annually observed as the ‘International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women’. Interestingly, women have been described as an invaluable gift. Their cardinal role within and outside the family cannot and will not be disputed. Obviously, many homes wouldn’t have been what they are today if not for the judicious efforts of women in keeping pace with their onerous task as pillars of the family. Unfortunately, the prominent roles women hitherto play are unappreciated, undermined and disparaged by the violence they are daily subjected to. Despite these violence and challenges, women’s impact in the socio-economic and political life of a nation cannot be downplayed.
The numerous challenges facing women globally have been a source of concern not only to stakeholders, but also to government and policy makers. In many instances, women work round the clock in providing the basic needs of the family.
Women in developing and less developed countries lack the basic education required for them to perform optimally. The United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs estimate that two-thirds of the world’s 876 million illiterates are women.
Worse still, is the issue of dealing with local customs. Women are being subjected to all kinds of anti-social violence such as, widowhood practices, female genital mutilation, domestic violence, sexual abuse of girls at school, sexual harassment, child marriage, denial of rights to property, among others. Available country data reveals that seven out of 10 women experience sexual and physical violence during their lifetime.
Education has been canvassed as the most potent tool for empowering women. It instills basic skills necessary to participate actively in national development. Educationists opined that investing in girl-child education is one of the most effective ways to reduce poverty.
United Nations has set aside every November 25 to celebrate women. The day raises public awareness to the violence and harmful practices women hitherto face. Going forward, therefore, all manner of violence against women must be confronted frontally and pursued with utmost vigour and sense of purpose it deserves.
This 21st century vehemently advocates for women empowerment as the pivot for development. Women have what it takes to contribute meaningfully to national development if adequately empowered. Come to think of it, women like the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel; Liberian President, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf; UK Prime Minister, Theresa May; Nepal President, Bidhya Devi Bhandari and many others are all product of women empowerment.
Finally, as the rest of the world celebrated this special day whose theme is: ‘leave no one behind: end violence against women and girls’, we need to keep in mind that more efforts should be made, especially leaders from developing countries, towards empowering women academically, politically, economically, socially and otherwise. In addition, violent practices against women should be obliterated where they still exist.
- The reader is a public analyst and social commentator on national issues from Dubai, UAE