In the lead up to next Friday's International Women’s Day, I wanted to emphasise the importance of gender equality, as it relates to women and girls, and AVI’s commitment.
As a rights-based international development agency, AVI sees gender equality as a basic human right, enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, including Article 1 that states “All human beings are… equal in dignity and rights”.
Gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls is also a key driver of social and economic development, including spurring productivity and economic growth.
I first saw affirmative policy and programs with the UN’s Women in Development approach and programs in Africa. However, thirty years later we still have a long way to go to achieve the changes in male dominated power structures, including in Australia, to ensure the safety and opportunity for women and girls.
I am heartened though, by the concerted efforts to tackle these challenges globally, including the Australian government’s commitment, focusing 80 per cent of foreign aid into addressing gender issues, women’s empowerment programs and establishing the Ambassador for Women & Girls.
I am proud that AVI has a gender equality policy and action plan in place. As part of this, more than half of AVI’s Board and management are women, and the work we do with all international projects and the Australian Volunteers Program build capacity to empower women and challenge out-dated power structures.
On this International Women’s Day, let us renew our commitment to gender equality, renounce the injustice and abhorrence of gender-based violence and fight for the right of women and girls to receive the same opportunities in health, education and employment, as well as participation in society and politics.