Make it Happen

This blog is dedicated to our mothers, sisters, daughters; to women all over the world, many of whom face the extreme challenges of living in a rigidly patriarchal society, within cultures where their human rights are viewed as being less important than those of men.

While the degree of injustice is lesser in some societies than others, it is time to give women equal access to education and resources.

For they deserve to have the same opportunities.

It is time to empower them so that they may contribute and prosper under the same sky as men.

It has been twenty years since 189 countries signed the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. [1]

While much has changed, so much more remains to be done in order for us all to understand that women’s rights are equal to human rights.

The Beijing Platform for Action focuses on 12 critical areas of concern, and envisions a world where each woman and girl can exercise her choices, such as participating in politics, getting an education, having an income, and living in societies free from violence and discrimination.” [2] These critical areas are: “…poverty; education and training; health; violence; armed conflict; economy; power and decision-making; institutional mechanisms; human rights; media; environment; and the girl child.”[3]

All we have to do is consider the case of Malala, who was shot in the head, point blank because the Taliban could not tolerate a 12 year old girl taking a stance for the right of education.

She campaigned from the age of 10, writing a diary for a BBC blog, volunteering for The New York Times documentaries and her little voice had power.

Her father, Ziauddin Yousafzai, gave a wonderfully eye-opening TedTalk in which he exposes the tribal, patriarchal society as it is.

To begin with, women who give birth to a girl are not even congratulated!

The child cannot go to school, only her brothers can.

As a result her name has not been officially recognized and she has no identity.

In many countries women are considered the property of their fathers and then the property of their husband, they cannot be considered as individuals before the law.

They are denied access to a life of their own.

As Malala’s father puts it: “Admission in a school means that she has entered the world of dreams and aspirations where she can explore her potentials for her future life.” [4]

She is expected to be quiet and submissive and even marry as a child.

By the age of 14 she could be on her third marriage with children and no education; no way to fend for herself.

Boys are taught honour, girls are taught obedience.

If they stray, the girls risk being killed by their father, or another male member of their family for dishonouring them.

The tragedy is that this is taught over and over again, from mother to child, perpetuating the horror.

Khalida Brohi is a young Pakistani woman who has dedicated her young life to putting an end to the honour killings. [5]

She has done this through education; empowering them to take charge of their lives, by creating centers called Sughars, where the women learn about embroidery and business.

Brohi has launched the Sughar Foundation in the U.S. and her dream is to unleash the potential of rural women in Pakistan in the years to come.

We don’t all live under such extreme social conditions but I know that we all have women in our lives whose achievements deserve to be celebrated and their rights recognized.

To them I offer my gratitude and admiration for their strength and courage.

May this 20th anniversary since the Beijing Declaration Platform for Action remind the world that gender equality is critical.

When asked how he taught his daughter to be “…so bold and so courageous and so vocal and poised” Malala’s father responds: “…don’t ask me what I did. Ask me what I did not do. I did not clip her wings, and that’s all”. [6]

‘Make it Happen’ is the theme for this year’s International Woman’s Day. [7] The UN theme for International Women’s Day 2015 is “Empowering Women, Empowering Humanity: Picture it!” [8]

So, Let’s Picture it! Let’s Make it Happen!

By Boky and Blake