Women and girls represent half of the world’s population—but in spite of the progress that has been made in bettering their lives, the road ahead remains long.
As the famous saying goes, “Women’s rights are human rights.” Women are equal members of society and have a right to live free from violence and discrimination, to be educated, own property, vote and fully participate in economic activities. When women have full access to their rights, all of society prospers. Experts claim that female empowerment and gender equality are two of the most effective ways for the global community to achieve every one of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.
Yet in many areas of the world, society disregards the place of women and girls simply because of their gender, filling their lives with needless and often dangerous challenges. The constant flow of negative news stories can seem overwhelming, from the trafficking of young girls to unequal pay for workers to the accounts of sexual harassment currently emerging from the film industry. One cannot help but feel that the global community is regressing rather than advancing in our struggle for gender equality.
But scratch below the surface and you’ll find uplifting stories of changemakers tackling some of the most pressing issues in the lives of women and girls. From grassroots organisations and social enterprises to international institutions, they are applying innovative ideas and bringing positive change. In India, illiterate mothers are providing their villages with electricity thanks to a solar engineering school. In the UK, teenage girls attending a coding school are taking on the world of tech. And in Senegal, women are turning to the football field to show just how strong and capable they are when united.
These are stories worth reading, as they emphasise the value of women to society. By sharing them, we can encourage existing solutions to be replicated worldwide.
The media play a crucial role in shaping the national and international narrative around women’s lives. That is why the social enterprise Sparknews has created Women in Action, inviting nine media partners, including The Daily Star, to participate in a month-long programme highlighting solutions to reduce gender inequality. Each week, readers from France, Switzerland, the UK, Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Bangladesh and India will discover initiatives from around the world concerning women in different domains.
The series starts with a focus on education and training the week of November 13, followed by economic opportunities for women the week of November 20. Women and health is the theme starting November 27, while the place of women in society and community rounds out the programme the week of December 4. Readers will be able to browse content in the form of articles, videos and infographics, and take an online quiz to test their knowledge of women’s challenges and achievements.
Renowned experts from international institutions such as the Graça Machel Trust, the Global Fund For Women, Mama Cash and Mary Robinson Foundation Climate Justice will join the conversation with a weekly op-ed, shedding light on the progress already made and expressing their hopes for the future.
We are certain our readers will take inspiration from these stories, and we encourage you to share them too. By doing so, you can help make a lasting difference for women, girls and society as a whole.
Mahfuz Anam, Editor & Publisher, The Daily Star
Christian de Boisredon and The Sparknews Team