On International Women’s Day we make an urgent call to accelerate gender equality

In the face of escalating global crises, the pursuit of gender equality has never been more critical. The empowerment of women and girls is indispensable for fostering prosperous economies and ensuring a sustainable future for our planet. As we approach International Women’s Day tomorrow March 8, 2024, the theme “Invest in Women: Accelerate Progress” underscores the urgent need for action in this area.

Christine Mukamana

The quest for the attainment of gender equality by 2030 faces a significant obstacle: a funding shortfall of approximately $360 billion annually for gender equality initiatives. This alarming gap underscores the importance of prioritizing investment in women’s rights across all facets of life.

Investing in women is not only a matter of human rights but also a foundation for building inclusive societies. The COVID-19 pandemic, geopolitical conflicts, and environmental disasters have exacerbated poverty, with an additional 75 million people falling into severe poverty since 2020. Without immediate intervention, over 342 million women and girls could be living below the poverty line by 2030.

The economic challenges are further compounded by austerity measures, which disproportionately affect women and reduce public spending on essential services and social protection. Transitioning to a green economy and caring society is vital for addressing poverty, inequality, and environmental degradation, which disproportionately impact women and marginalized groups.

Feminist organizations play a crucial role in addressing women’s poverty and inequality, yet they are severely underfunded, receiving only 0.13% of total official development assistance. The climate crisis, with its potential to plunge nearly158 million more women and girls into poverty by 2050, highlights the need for a feminist climate justice framework that integrates women’s rights into the global fight against environmental catastrophe.

The report “Feminist Climate Justice: A Framework for Action” by UN Women outlines a vision for a world where everyone can enjoy human rights and live on a healthy, sustainable planet. This vision encompasses the recognition of women’s rights, labor, and knowledge; the redistribution of economic resources; representing women’s voices and agency; and repairing inequalities and historical injustices.

The upcoming COP28 climate conference is a critical opportunity to hold countries accountable for their climate actions and ensure that responses to environmental challenges incorporate the needs and rights of women and girls. UN Women plans to develop a gender equality and climate policy scorecard to monitor gender-responsive national climate policies systematically.

Investing in women’s organizations is crucial during times of crisis, as they provide essential services, hope, and a lifeline to their communities. From supporting women in Afghanistan and Gaza to empowering migrant women in Colombia and promoting women’s economic potential in Rwanda, the stories of resilience and empowerment underscore the importance of investing in women for a healthier planet, peaceful communities, and just economies.

As we celebrate International Women’s Day 2024, let us commit to investing in women and accelerating progress towards gender equality, recognizing that progress for women benefits us all.