girls

As we celebrate the International Women’s Day, we must reflect upon the challenges many women and girls face around the globe

International Women’s March

Whether a Rohingya refugee or a famous actress in Hollywood, being a woman requires an extra level of resistance and hope. The last few years have opened many eyes on the situation of women around the world, especially concerning sexual harassment and the fragility of the gender equality speech when it comes to true representation and parity on the work field.

Yet, we have much more to accomplish. Here are a few numbers from UN Women to consider: 1 in 3 women experience violence in their lifetime; 830 women die every day from preventable pregnancy-related causes; and only 1 in 4 parliamentarians worldwide are women. It will be 2086 before we close the gender pay gap if present trends continue with no action.

What can we do as a society to accelerate equality in our world? Awareness campaigns surely help, as #MeToo and many other hashtags spread the message that we are equal in our experiences and concerns. We’ve learned that feminism is not the opposite of sexism, it’s solely the true hope to be equal in a broad, respectful way. Marches around the world passed the message that we, as women, own our bodies, our choices, our sexuality. That we must be heard and respected. But is it enough?

The new International Women’s Day theme this year is «Time is Now: Rural and Urban Activists Transforming Womens’ Lives». It celebrates strong, fearless activists whose work is key to all the transformations we’re witnessing as a society. More important than being a voice, they are role models for our girls and boys, the next generations that will hopefully put their message into practice. Activism is key, and female activism is the remedy to invisibility.

Despite a long history of prejudice and ignorance, these women are getting their voices increasingly heard. From Malala Yousafzai, who’s shown that education matters for girls, to Amal Clooney, who was brave enough to be the first lawyer to sue ISIS for its crimes, to Noriko Mitsui, Horyou ambassador to Japan, whose work for social good has been recognized by members of the US Congress and its Multi Ethnic Advisory Task Force which ranked her among the Top 20 Women of Global Excellence. To mothers, waitresses, teachers, housewives, who fight against poverty, prejudice and domestic violence.

Many of them might not be able to march. I’m marching for them, though. I want to resonate their voices. Because #Timesup to be silent.

Written by Vívian Soares

Horyou supports the SDG5, which aims to empower women and girls for gender equality. You can be part of it too either by supporting one of Horyou organizations which work for this SDG or by participating in the Horyou Light Challenge, that aims to raise awareness of gender equality. Be the change, be Horyou!

Forced marriage is still an issue that affects more than 700 million women globally – a third of them are less than 18. In order to raise awareness of this issue, the UNICEF partnered with major African artists to write a song against child marriage.

In Central and Western Africa, 41% of the girls above 18 are married (illustrative photo, source: UNICEF)
In Central and Western Africa, 41% of the girls above 18 are married (illustrative photo, source: UNICEF)

In Central and Western Africa, 41% of the girls above 18 are married – in countries like Benin, one in ten girls is married under the age of 15. More than depicting a social issue, these statistics are alarming from a health care standpoint as many of these girls are not able-bodied for childbearing and could face permanent physical and psychological damage.

As part of the Zero Tolerance Campaign against child marriage that the government launched last June, nine artists from Benin committed themselves to breaking the silence around child marriage. UNICEF’s Goodwill Ambassadors Angélique Kidjo and Zeynab Abib, supported by Danialou Sagbohan, Kalamoulaï, Don Métok, Sessimè, Dibi Dobo, Norberka and Olga Vigouroux, gathered to craft a deeply moving song and a video that call the population to act.

“A little girl is still a child. She cannot be a mother or a bride. Let her grow up to live a fulfilling life. Say NO to child marriage!”; so goes the song, co-written by Angelique Kidjo and Zeynab Abib.

The artists sing in a variety of languages, including Fon, Mina, Mahi, Sahouè, Yoruba, Goun, Bariba and French in order for the message to spread throughout the country and neighbouring countries.

Artists from Benin are engaged in the cause
Artists from Benin are engaged in the cause

“The impact on these girls is terrible. Once married, they no longer go to school, they are raped, they get pregnant, which puts their health and that of their baby in danger. We artists are saying NO to all these injustices! Girls are not the property of anyone; they have the right to choose their own destinies”, says Beninese pop star Zeynab Abib, who was able to mobilise Benin’s greatest artists around this cause.

Early marriage prevents girls from getting proper education and leads them to poverty, while enforcing the prevalence of traditions and belief systems that are tied to the continued practice of child marriage.

“We need all the strength and weapons we can muster to fight the scourge of child marriage. Art, especially music, is a powerful weapon. As Nelson Mandela said, ‘politics can be strengthened by music, but music has a potency that defies politics’. This power must be harnessed!” says Dr Claudes Kamenga, UNICEF Representative in Benin.

Watch the video [English subtitles] [SAY NO TO CHILD MARRIAGE]1 Watch the video [French subtitles] [DISONS NON AU MARIAGE DES ENFANTS]2

Horyou is the Social Network for Social Good, which connects, supports and promotes social initiatives, entrepreneurs, and citizens who help the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals to build a more harmonious and inclusive world. We invite you to Be the Change, Be Horyou!

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