International Women's Day is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women - while also marking a call to action for accelerating gender equality.
The first International Women's Day occurred in 1911, supported by over one million people. Today, IWD belongs to all groups collectively everywhere and have empowered individuals and organisations to work towards creating a gender-equal world.
Collective action and shared responsibility for driving a gender-equal world is key. We asked a few of our HundrED 2020 innovators what they are doing to forge a Gender-Equal World? This is what they had to say..
"I am using Education for Sustainable Development as a transformative tool to empower girls and boys alike & helping them in using this knowledge not only to bridge opportunity gaps but also to change archaic mindsets that act as emancipation barriers. "
- Kehkashan Basu, Founder President, Green Hope Foundation, Canada
"Educating girls and providing economic opportunity for women in Malawi. Empowering women by helping them OWN businesses. Working with local traditional and political leaders to ensure that women's rights are protected and expanded."
- Dr. Anna Msowoya-Keys, Founder and President, XTalksWORLDListens, Malawi
"In our work at Dream a Dream, we are creating healthy environments in schools for children of different genders to talk, share, interact and play together. Such spaces and conversations that foster empathy for each other, respect and dignity help build healthy adult relationships.
By dispelling stereotypes, guilt and shame around love, sex and friendships between genders, we are changing the prevailing gender dynamics towards a gender-equal world."
- Vishal Talreja, Co-founder, Dream a Dream, India
"I spend more time with girls and women to encourage them to speak. Women’s voices have been excluded from their homes, communities and in national decision making. I encourage women to speak and be heard."
- Dionne Oguna, Assistant Program Officer Communications- PAL Network, Kenya
"We seek out the hidden voices in overlooked parts of the world. At Xtalks, we believe one of the most powerful routes to a gender-equal world is for all of us to truly listen and with humility and a willingness to learn from the experience of others."
- Alex Bell, Co-founder, XtalksWORLDlistens, UK
"Building a gender-equal world has always been an important target of the Smart School Alliance. Multiple studies have shown that students in the suburban areas receive poor quality education compared to students in urban areas. This applies even more for girls, since girls are more likely to drop out of school than boys due to factors such as poverty, insecure learning environments, and long distances from education institutions. The alliance presents a solution to provide the access to education by removing the barriers such as insecure learning environment and long distances mentioned previously. We have also partnered up with NGOs such as Girls in Tech to promote the visibility of girls in STEAM fields, giving girls an equal opportunity to participate with boys.
Devoted to bridge the urban-rural gap and gender inequality, we believe that applying technology does allow us to bring equality to our world."
- Fang Chen Chuang, Mei Fang Chung, YenYin Wang, Tasha Liu, Tracy Ruan, Eugenia Cheng, Tiffany Lin, Jennifer Luo, Institute for Information Industry, Digital Education Institute, Innovative Learning Center, Smart School Alliance, Taiwan
“Through our exclusive digital and financial literacy workshops, designed on life lessons of both men and women from common corridors of life, we are aiming to create a gender-sensitive and equal world.”
- Deepak Ramola, Founder and Artistic Director, Project FUEL, India
"Our self-sustaining school program offers technical- vocational education and equal opportunity to young girls and boys coming vulnerable situations, so they can flourish and become world-class leaders. Our methodology is designed to close gender and social gaps, and inspire students to "learn by doing, selling, and earning.""
- Martin Burt, CEO, Self-Sustaining Agricultural School, Paraguay
"I am committed to showing that women can successfully found, raise funds for, and lead impactful organisations. I am also committed to enabling displaced young women and men to access learning programmes that help them to change the world for the better."
- Polly Akhurst, Co-Executive Director, Amala (formerly Sky School)
"We, at Big Picture, The Met and College Unbound have been working under the mantra of, “one student at a time.” Every student has their own student-driven project.
This way of working allows everyone to work on their strengths, regardless of gender or culture. The Big Picture philosophy treats everyone the same…differently. Gender and culture enter in when the student wants their gender and culture to be part of their work. We live in a global world where everyone needs to be respected for who they are.
Big Picture asks every city, state and country to create their own schools, according to their students and place. The Big Picture philosophy is a set of guidelines for people to learn and to transform themselves."
- Dennis Littky, Co-founder, Big Picture Learning, USA
Some of our innovators didn’t stop at just sharing how they are forging a gender-equal world but brought forward the voices of people they work with and empower. For example, NaTakallam, a language learning platform that connects displaced people shared two stories from their teachers:
Cristina, in her 50s, is originally from San Juan el socorro, Venezuela. Due to conflict in her home country Cristina relocated to Trinidad and Tobago. Previously Cristina worked as a professor and architect. In her free time she enjoys watching movies and swimming. She is very excited to be teaching again through her work with NaTakallam! She writes:
"I don't want to live in fear
I don't want to be excluded
I want gender justice and equality
I want empowerment
I take action to educate the next generation beyond gender discrimination, to make life better for me, my daughter and future generations."
- Cristina Harvey, Teacher, NaTakallam, Trinidad and Tobago
Yara is in her 20s and is originally from Damascus, Syria where she studied English literature and worked as a teacher and translator. She currently lives in Lebanon and enjoys reading, writing, swimming, playing chess, and dancing. She writes:
"I moved to Lebanon alone to continue my studies and pursue my dreams. Now, I support myself and use every opportunity to pursue my studies, making every effort to travel abroad. In my own struggle, I found the power to be committed to making this world equal."
- Yara Hassan, Teacher, NaTakallam, Lebanon
Women's equality can't wait. It's going to take everyone to think and be inclusive - all the time, everywhere.
For International Women's Day 2020 and beyond, how will you support #EachforEqual?