In 1908, 15,000 women marched through New York City demanding shorter hours, better pay and voting rights.  Over 100 years later, different regions in the world celebrate, respect and appreciate women and their economic and political contributions as well as social achievements; but for many groups and organizations, International Women’s Day is a day to conmemorate the fight for equality.  In fact, the theme designated by the UN for this year is “Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step It Up for Gender Equality”

100 years ago, the world was a very different place, there were very few cars, no TV,

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women could not vote, own property or even open a bank account in the majority of countries.  An apple was still an apple.

Since then, women have gained those rights and transformed the world by transforming their roles, their families and their communities.

Women are now key voices in areas of conflict as volunteers, nurses, negotiators and advocates.   Our perspectives on peace and justice are key and unique, we do not understand peace as only the lack of guns, but we also understand it as respect, absense of gender violence, improvement of health, education and food and justice.

Women are also the fastest growing force in job creation and economic development.  As many more of us join the workforce, our voice is heard from the military to the policy development fields.   We lead improvements in schools and neighborhoods, hire and are a force in the legal system… And age is a barrier that no longer stops us,  the average age for women serving in the US House of Representatives is 59.

There are now more university-educated women than men in most rich countries!

In the US, early in 2010, we had more women working than men and the impact we have in the economy is huge.  Many studies have shown that the presence of a critical mass of women in senior jobs is positively correlated with a company’s performance and possibly higher profits.

It is estimated that women are responsible for 66% of production outputs in the world, yet we are compensated 10%.   In Asia, women are responsible for 50% of the agricultural output and in Africa, the number goes up to 80%.

Still, in many parts of the world, women can’t get passports as easy as men can.  Can’t manage property or own land and can’t even pick their own clothes.

 

Women on average re-invest 90% of their income in their households (men invest 30%).  Allowing women to participate in the marketplace, gives families more money to invest on food, housing and education. Crucial components for reducing poverty and promoting economic development.

If you consider these numbers and then add the large gaps in immunizations and education for girls and women around the world, my question is:  How can we make informed and responsible decisions if we do not have access to the health, the education and the resources?

The World bank suggests a two-fold strategy to empower women: a) Making the market work for women 2) Empowering women in the market.

How do we maximize impact?   This is food for thought, but let’s think fast…. In Georgia, women are still behind in terms of access to healthcare and women’s services, especially in rural Georgia.  If the trend of unequal pay continues, we would not make as much as men until 2055. Currently, we make 82 cents per each dollar a male makes.

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