Women around the globe are still facing severe inequalities for instance unequal treatment, less payment and are more likely to be exposed to poverty. Women of the world want and deserve an equal future free from stigma, stereotypes and violence. So March 8th stands for the progress on a sustainable and peaceful future with equal rights and opportunities for all.
The event, moderated by Sarah Noble of The New Humanitarian, aimed at giving a voice to young women activists across the globe, who defy the growing challenges in times of the pandemic and step up their efforts to shape societies that are more equitable, just and sustainable. Before giving the floor to the inspiring youth activists, EU Ambassador Stevens stressed that the youth activists on the panel are true role models. “You are female leaders that we need at the forefront of our common efforts to build an equal future for all of us. Where boys and girls around the world can equally realize their dreams, free from gender stereotypes and structural discrimination”, he said in the beginning of the event. Furthermore, he highlighted that promoting gender equality and women’s and girls’ rights is a key priority to the European Union
The Commisioner Jutta Urpilainen, DG International Partnerships states out in her speech that “youth will drive the change we need for a better, greener and fairer future”. She also refers to the Gender Action Plan by the European Union and the nomination of a Special Advisor on Youth, to include young people in the decision-making progress on a high-level.
Assistant Secretary-General and Deputy Executive Director Asa Regner from UN Women, drew special attention to the lack of funding for civil society, to the harassment or greater risks young women face while being engaged in activism and guarantees the full support they need to carry out their mission.
Due to the Covid crisis, existing inequalities between women and men are exacerbating in almost all areas of life, both in Europe and beyond, rolling back on the hard-won achievements of past years. Therefore, it is important to have young women step up to shape the future.
Amy Meek is co-founder with her sister Ella of ‘Kids against Plastics’ in the UK. She highlights in her speech that you are never too young to make a difference. She said “the only barrier of being a changemaker is the judgment by your surroundings that undermine the work you are doing”. While being active as a Climate Activist during a pandemic, Amy pointed out how important it is to adapt and try to keep a positive mindset.
Julieta Martinez is a youth activist from Chile and member of the Generation Equality Youth Task Force. She co-founded Tremendas, an organization to gather young women and foster social change. While growing up in Chile, she experienced the inequalities in her own country “I see my country and I find inequalities, I find poverty, I find gender discrimination and I was upset. But the solution is to first identify the problem, second to study the problem and third to take action.”
Yande Banda is a 17-year-old education advocate from Zambia and the Chair of “Transform Education” at the UN Girls’ Education Initiative. She encouraged young girls to stand out and “the world will hear you”. She calls out on the decision-makers to actively engage with young people and not only to have them heard and then exclude from the decision-making process. She also highlighted the need for adequate funding for youth activists.
A part of gender equality is also to ensure that everyone has access to the basic needs. As a human rights activist and lawyer, İlayda Eskitaşcioğlu founded the NGO ‘We Need To Talk’ which is providing women in rural areas in Turkey or without the financial means access to period products. “Access to menstrual products is a human right,” she highlights and emphasizes the intersectionality of this issue.
Lucija Tacer, a law student and s current Youth Delegate to the United Nation from Slovenia, focuses in political activism for gender equality. She recalls that “Feminism is not only for women, it stands for equal opportunities.” She also refered to the difficulties and the pressure that comes along with advocating for gender equality. Lucija pointed out the importance for young women to connect with each other and actively engage and talk about experiences, in order to build resilient networks.