Be Bold for Change is the theme for International Women’s Day 2017.  In 2017 women around the world continue to strive for equal pay, a life free from violence, the right to their consent being respected and control over their own bodies, equal educational opportunities and representation in decision making, from the family home to government offices.

Despite the numerous barriers that women face, many are smashing through them, by being bold and changing the world for the better…

Pakistan

Aliyar Harir grew up in Pakistan and was taught to fear Indians.  On a school exchange in the US she met and befriended many fellow students from India.  After returning home to Islamabad she helped to found Aaghaz-e-Dosti (beginning of friendship) an organisation which promotes peacebuilding between the two nations.

Aghaz-e-Dosti campaigners, building peace between India and Pakistan

Kenya

In the village of Olosho-Oibor the installation of solar panels has allowed local women to grow their businesses, assisted young girls with evening study, improved the access to water with solar powered pumps and powers a local rescue centre for girls escaping earl marriage and FGM.  Funded and managed by local women the project is also supported by the UN Industrial Development Organisation.

The village of Olosho-Oibor in Kenya

United States of America

Murina Ahmed, a Bangladeshi-American has become the ‘face of resistance’ against President Trump’s anti Muslim administration.  An image of Ahmed in a stars and stripes hijab was immortalised in the style of Barack Obama’s Hope poster and is being widely used at rallies across the nation.  Since Trump’s inauguration the number of women who have contacted elected officials has tripled and 1 in 5 women aged 18-34 have either participated in a protest or donated to an organisation.

Women’s rights activist Murina Ahmed

Argentina

Protests in the last six months have seen women struggle against issues ranging from gender based violence and ‘femicide’ to the right to sunbathe topless.  The #NiUnaMenos or Not One Less campaign has been growing since 2015 and has spread to neighbouring countries such as Uruguay and Chile.

#NiUnaMenos protestors in Chile

Tanzania

A DFID funded program beginning in 2017 will use drones to deliver blood and medical supplies to rural villages to assist with pregnancies and maternal health. With many villages cut off by rains or too far from medical centres, the drones will be able to deliver lifesaving assistance.  The drones will be able to carry 1kg of supplies up to 75kms and assist in women having safer births.

Ireland

The Republic of Ireland has become the 6th country in the world, after Canada, Sweden, Norway, Iceland and Northern Ireland to outlaw the purchasing sex, in an attempt to decrease prostitution.  The new law will places ‘legal responsibility on the exploiters rather than the exploited,’ according to campaigners.  Anyone prosecuted will face fines of up to 1,000 euros.

Liberia

Despite electing the first ever female President in Africa, female representation is low in Liberia’s Parliament.  In 2016 the Equal Representation & Participation Bill was passed, allocating 7 of 73 seats to women (5), young people (1) and people with a disability (1).  In sub-Saharan Africa women hold 22% of parliamentary seats.

Poland

A proposal to ban all abortion saw women across the country come out in protest in late 2016.  In the majority Catholic country women would be subject to 5 years imprisonment and doctors 3 years even if they became pregnant through rape or incest.  UP to 100,000 people protested the proposed laws which were eventually abandoned.

Japan

The International Olympic Committee has taken a strong stance on gender equality in the lead up to the 2020 Tokyo Games.  The IOC announced that Kasumigaseki Country Club, the site for the golf event, must allow women to become full members or they will lose their hosting rights.

India

In the Indian state of Maharashtra, the Aajibaichi Shala or grandmothers’ school is teaching women over the age of 60 to read, write and learn basic arithmetic, for the first time in their life.  Only 59% of rural Indian women are literate, compared to 79% of men.  Many of the students at Aajibaichi Shala were married before the legal age of 18 and only now have the chance to attend formal education.

Students at Aajibaichi Shala in Maharashtra, India
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