International Women’s Day 2012: Educate And Empower Girls And Women
On International Women’s Day 2012, UN Rep Margareta Wahlström calls on governments of disaster-prone countries to empower girls and women through education.
AsianScientist (Mar. 8, 2012) - The United Nations (UN) theme for International Women’s Day 2012, celebrated annually on March 8, is “Empower Rural Women – End Hunger and Poverty.”
The official observance for IWD 2012 took place yesterday at the UN Headquarters in New York, with opening remarks from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and a video message from UN Women Executive Director Michelle Bachelet.
As part of building resilience to disasters at the community level, the UN Secretary-General's Special Representative for Disaster Risk Reduction, Margareta Wahlström, called on governments in disaster-prone countries to empower girls and women through education and access to resources.
"Progress is being made in reaching the Millennium Development Goal of universal access to primary education but women still make up over two-thirds of the world's 796 million people who are illiterate," Wahlström said.
"We are handicapping ourselves in the fight against hunger and disasters if women are not given full access to basic schooling," she said.
Rural women are the backbone of agricultural labor, the main care-givers in the home and often the head of the household, said Wahlström.
Yet, they are discriminated against when it comes to education, access to information about climate change and hazards in their communities, and basic life-saving skills such as learning how to read and write, how to swim or how to climb out of harm's way, she said.
"There is strong evidence to suggest that women are more likely to die in disasters than men and it is often because they are denied access to basic information about disaster risk and inhibited by social norms from escaping the home or work-place in time to avoid death," she said.
"One of the greatest contributions we can make to climate change adaptation is to empower rural women and ensure their full involvement in the life of their communities especially when it comes to disaster management," she urged.
Source: UNISDR; Photo: UN Women/David Snyder.
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