Comment: advancement of women is a prerequisite for sustainable development

Mariam Al Hammadi, director of the Big Heart Foundation, says we must make the efforts required to celebrate International Women's Day the way it deserves to be celebrated.
Mariam Al Hammadi, Women, International Women's Day, IWD, #BalanceforBetter, Society, Culture, Equality, Empowerment, Sustainability, Development

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Image: Mariam Al Hammadi.

The International Women’s Day comes as an annual reminder that the advancement of women’s role and status in socioeconomic and cultural life is a prerequisite for comprehensive and sustainable development.

Despite a series of upheavals experienced by many countries in the last decade, concerted efforts were made to achieve stronger rates of female participation in economy and society. Creation of appropriate job opportunities to suit women’s skillsets and other requirements, formulation of women’s empowerment programmes to build their academic, professional and entrepreneurial capacities, and making their voices heard on important global platforms has resulted in a more conducive and supportive environment for their continued progress across sectors.

However, women continue to encounter challenges, especially in education, employment and security. According to some reports, lack of educational opportunities for girls is costing the global economy about 1 billion dollars every year. It is true that International Women’s Day is an important day to recognise women’s longstanding struggles through history to gain their rights as influential members of society, but how will most nations achieve a good rate of growth if half the population is unable to receive an education?

If women are denied their right to education, especially in developing nations, it will pose a major impediment to their personal and professional development, thereby reflecting on the nation. What will the future look like with 31 million girls out of school worldwide? This figure is equivalent to more than half the world's children who are not enrolled in school.

These figures are alarming, and elicit immediate corrective action. Together, we must make the efforts required to celebrate International Women's Day the way it deserves to be celebrated. By ensuring that we safeguard the rights and dignity of all women worldwide to ultimately safeguard the interests of entire communities.

Mariam Al Hammadi is director of the Big Heart Foundation (TBHF).

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