International Women’s Day: A Double-Edged Sword

Published on 13 March 2019

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Joyce Nabwire

IDS MA Gender and Development Student

To begin with, I appreciate everyone who has contributed to the struggle of realising so far, the achievements towards Gender Equality, on International Women’s Day.  All those who have written, spoken and supported financially and morally.

Balancing unpaid care work

Women are mothers of all generations, without whom the world would hang in vacuum. They are the backbone of the reproductive economy, shouldering the role of bringing up human life, nurturing and caring for their families,  In many cases, because of limited access to public services, those who work, need to combine paid work where they earn very little, with unpaid care work,  which is a backbreaking balancing act.  Their sacrifice in these roles is often not fully recognised.

Over 42 per cent of women are over-represented in informal employment simply because they are contributing family workers and engaged in vulnerable employment, especially in developing countries, and the Gender gaps in labour force participation are still unproportionally distributed. Leaving women behind in aspects of social, economic and political development deeply affects the family, society, and the world is not balancing up.

Power inequalities

On International Women’s Day, people across the world celebrated achievements so far earned in terms of political participation at different levels of leadership, economic advancement, participation in labour market, influencing pro- women policy formulation in various countries, and more. However, this advancement is sometimes seen as a threat to shift power and there is an expectation that women should specialise in subordinate reproductive roles, leading to issues of Gender Based Violence.

Inclusivity, respect and dignity

All this notwithstanding we need ask ourselves how many of the women around the world have not yet had a glimpse of these achievements and still struggling? Eaten up by violence, poverty and lack of voice to participate in decision making, let alone bargaining about their own bodies. Working with women faced with violence reveals that a lot remains to be done for women in such categories in order to pull their feet from the sticky mud they are trapped in. Under the Gender Based Prevention and response programme I worked on, men and women have been sensitised to understand the importance of inclusivity, respect and dignity and above all creating space for all to fully participate in social, economic and political advancement irrespective of age, race, class, gender ethnicity and affiliation.

Empowerment for all women

If each of us recognise the challenges around each Gender and the contribution we can make towards allowing equal opportunities, we should be able to balance for the better. As women commemorate around the world, our conscience should be towards the journey ahead, to keep pushing further to create an environment for equality. On one edge of the sword, there are the positive milestones women have achieved, on the other, it’s still sharply pointing at many challenges’ women still face. We need to put more focus on highlighting, emphasising and breaking through the social and structural barriers to equality. We must work together to improve and create favourable conditions that can help facilitate women everywhere to rise-up and celebrate with those who have already achieved some level of empowerment.

Happy women’s day to all!

Joyce Nabwire is studying a MA in Gender and Development at IDS.


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