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International Women’s Day: Eight actionable areas for women’s empowerment

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Courtesy: Asian Media USA
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By Arpit Gupta

Today i.e. March 8, marks the 108th observance of International Women’s Day that celebrates the social, economic, and political achievements of all women across the globe.

The roots of this celebration of feminity can be traced back to 1909 when women across America, marched for their better social status and equality on February 28. The event was known as National Women’s Day. International Women’s Day was initiated two years later in 1911 after Luis Zietz, a German socialist, stressed on the need for a global celebration of the event at a socialist International meeting in Copenhagen in 1910.

Even though many measures have been implemented for the empowerment of women in the last 100 years, still there are many issues facing women, which are yet to be tackled. Here are the eight important things that need to be done for women’s empowerment:

1. No violence against women: Violence against women is an affront to the foundation of fundamental rights, women’s dignity, and their decency. Even today rape and sexual violence are very frequent and their perpetrators are getting indirect support of their communities. Men and boys have a critical role to play in reversing the pandemic of violence against women.

2. Justice and security for women: Laws are there for women, but they need to be enforced within legal frameworks. Women need to know their rights and be able to access legal systems. Customs, traditions, or religious beliefs should never serve as an excuse or as justification for any abusive act against women.

3. Expansion of women’s participation and leadership: Women need skills and motivation to lead their lives on their own terms and contribute to all sectors of society. Women are often denied access to business transaction, land ownership, etc. This could be rectified by allowing women equal opportunities in all spheres of life and imparting them skills to take up leadership roles.

4. Involvement of women in all peace processes: Women must be involved in all stages of peace talks as negotiators. Peace agreement offers opportunities for inclusiveness, democratic reform, and gender equality. Gender provisions must be included in peace agreements and given priority.

5. Promotion of gender equality in disaster risk reduction: Women need to be incorporated in the analysis of disaster risk and in designing risk reduction process.

6. Promotion of women as leaders: Women should be given equal opportunities for livelihood, including access to land and credit. Rebuilding in key sectors such as transportation, shelter and health must benefit women. They should be groomed to take up leadership in various initiatives, as well as to innovate and become entrepreneurs.

7. Transformation of government to deliver for women: There is a need to engage women in the decision making process on government policies and resource mobilization.

8. Working together to transform society: Women organizations and networks need to be united in their work towards empowering women.

We must all be dedicated to give women, their rights and make them walk along with men not behind them

The author is an undergraduate student pursuing Mechanical Engineering at IIT-Roorkee. His twitter handle is: @Arpit2476667

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Top Hollywood women unveiled a sexual harassment initiative

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Top Hollywood women unveiled a sexual harassment initiative
A combination photo shows some of the actresses who have made allegations against producer Harvey Weinstein. Listed in alphabetical order, top row from left, Asia Argento, Rosanna Arquette, Jessica Barth, Cara Delevingne, Romola Garai, Judith Godreche, Heather Graham, Angelina Jolie. VOA

USA, Jan 1, 2018: More than 300 top women in Hollywood — from Meryl Streep and Jennifer Lawrence to Emma Thompson and Cate Blanchett — unveiled an initiative Monday to tackle pervasive sexual harassment in workplaces, calling special attention to their “sisters” in less than glamorous blue-collar jobs.

The initiative, dubbed Time’s Up, caps a year in which the Harvey Weinstein sexual misconduct scandal touched off a deluge of allegations that brought down powerful men in entertainment, politics and the media, prompting companies, government agencies and even the U.S. federal court system to re-examine harassment policies.

But in an open letter printed in The New York Times, the new initiative lends the star power of its A-list members to the cause of women in less prominent fields, urging support and respect for farm workers and others whose humble positions leave them vulnerable and voiceless.

“We fervently urge the media covering the disclosures by people in Hollywood to spend equal time on the myriad experiences of individuals working in less glamorized and valorized trades,” the group says in its full-page ad.

“To every woman employed in agriculture who has had to fend off unwanted sexual advances from her boss, every housekeeper who has tried to escape an assaultive guest, every janitor trapped nightly in a building with a predatory supervisor, every waitress grabbed by a customer and expected to take it with a smile … we stand with you. We support you.”

$15 million goal

Last month, the head of Ford Motor Company apologized to employees at two factories in Chicago and promised changes, after a scathing expose by the Timesdetailed pervasive harassment and mistreatment of women at the plants dating back to the 1990s. It was one of the first major media investigations into sexual harassment in blue-collar workplaces.

Among the specific steps it announced, Time’s Up has established a legal defense fund that, in just 12 days, has raised $13.4 million toward a $15 million goal aimed at providing legal aid for women and men who were sexually harassed, assaulted or abused in the workplace.

It has vowed to push for legislation to strengthen laws on workplace harassment and discrimination.

The group insists that more women must be brought into positions of power and leadership, while every woman should have equal benefits, opportunities, pay and representation.

As for Hollywood, it wants “swift and effective change to make the entertainment industry a safe and equitable place for everyone.”

And it called on women to wear black at Sunday’s Golden Globes as a statement against gender and racial inequality, and to raise awareness about the group’s efforts.

‘Dear Sisters’ 

The open letter in the Times, which also appears in the Spanish-language La Opinion, opens with the words “Dear Sisters” in large, bold type, and closes with the words “in solidarity,” followed by the names of the 300 women.

Several of Weinstein’s accusers signed the open letter. They include Ashley Judd, Gwyneth Paltrow and Kate Beckinsale, as well as Salma Hayek, whose lengthy account of mistreatment by Weinstein — “my monster,” she called him — was widely circulated on social media after appearing last month in The New York Times.

Weinstein has denied some of the allegations, including Hayek’s assertion that he pressured her to do a nude sex scene in one movie.

Other prominent women lending their names to the Time’s Up cause are actresses Natalie Portman, America Ferrera, Amy Schumer, Halle Berry, Julianne Moore, Keira Knightley, Nicole Kidman, Penelope Cruz, Reese Witherspoon, Scarlett Johansson, Susan Sarandon, Uma Thurman and Viola Davis; producer Shonda Rhimes; Universal Pictures chair Donna Langley; feminist activist Gloria Steinem; lawyer and ex-Michelle Obama chief of staff Tina Tchen and Nike Foundation co-chair Maria Eitel. (VOA)