International Women’s Day: #WomenForward
Figure Skating in Harlem is a proud member of the WomenForward Coalition, a group of 18 organizations that have come together with the PIMCO Foundation to benefit the lives of women throughout the world. Photo Credits: Ed Forti, Darial Sneed
As the UN’s International Women’s Day approaches on March 8, we write to you, our friends, family and followers intent on empowering and advancing girls and women around the world.
The latest World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report tells us it might be 217 years before we achieve gender parity. 217 years? We don’t know about you, but we just don’t have that kind of patience.
More than 130 million school-aged girls today do not actually attend school. Women and girls spend 200 million hours every day collecting water. About 750 million of our sisters alive today were married before their 18th birthday. Close to 1.1 billion women in the developing world do not have access to financial services.
This issue isn’t relegated to developing countries. A new report from one of us, Plan International, shows that developed countries also wrestle with gender parity, in large part due to harmful gender norms.
We have a moral imperative to close the global gender gap. And we would argue we have an economic imperative, too. According to a recent McKinsey Global Institute report, $12 trillion could be added to global GDP by 2025 by advancing women’s equality. Economies are becoming more resilient, but cannot grow to their full potential if women are excluded or treated differently than men.
So why can’t we figure this out?
Achieving true gender equality means tackling a host of complex issues, many deeply ingrained societal barriers that prevent progress. It requires a dedicated global partnership that brings together governments, civil society, and the private sector.
We know we can do more as one collective, amplified voice than separate voices trying to cut through the noise. Our #WomenForward group is tearing down barriers to education for young women in post-conflict and developing countries; fighting rape culture by advancing gender equality; championing girls’ voices; helping low-income and immigrant women launch new careers and start or scale new businesses; and so much more. By unleashing women’s leadership potential, we can transform lives and communities. We must support women to develop the necessary leadership skills, mentors and networks to gain confidence and influence change.
How Can You Help?
- Put your dollars to work! Support organizations that build sustainable opportunities for women and girls in the U.S. and globally. Your spending power can offer on-the-job training, provide employment, and fund community improvement projects for women. Make a donation today!
- Get involved. Consider investing (your time and/or money) with a gender lens. The nonprofits signing this letter are looking for champions to help us further our respective and collective missions. We have extreme and everyday issues that require attention, and we could use your help. We need active participants to offer strategy and solutions – and you could be a powerful change agent in this collective fight for justice.
- Use your voice to advocate. Mentor, speak up for your vulnerable neighbor, share stories of hope or action, and advocate for women’s rights and opportunities through research, policy platforms, and communications with your elected officials.
- Use your mouse. If you do nothing else, learn more about us, visit our websites, follow us on social media, and spread the word. Join the conversation on social media with #WomenForward. With a few clicks, you can make quite an impact.
We’ve seen the power in women around the world uniting to advocate for their rights. Please join us to unlock the potential of women everywhere as we tear down the walls standing in the way of full economic, social, and political inclusion. We’ve acknowledged the challenges, we’ve prepared the actions we need to take to right the wrongs. Let’s get out there and do it: now.
Global AIDS Interfaith Alliance (GAIA)
International Women’s Health Coalition
Sustainable Health Enterprises (SHE)