Saint Lucia Observes International Women’s Day, Tomorrow

The 2024 theme is "Investing In Women To Accelerate Progress."
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Message from Ms Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO, on the occasion of International Women’s Day —

The 2024 theme is “Investing In Women To Accelerate Progress.”

Gender equality is a simple idea. It is the conviction that women deserve the same rights, opportunities and knowledge as men. It is the belief that women have just as much to contribute to society – and to addressing societal issues. It is the commitment to breaking down barriers that have held women back for far too long.

Yet, for all its simplicity, gender equality is proving remarkably difficult to achieve. Today, no country in the world can claim to be gender equal. At our current pace, it will take almost 300 years for all countries to be able to do so. In the meantime, according to UNESCO data, artificial intelligence will claim more jobs from women than men by the end of this decade. The climate crisis will push an estimated 160 million women into poverty by 2050.

To break down the barriers facing women, UNESCO has made gender equality a global priority for its action. We acknowledge the invaluable contributions made by women scientists, artists, journalists, educators and athletes. We work to ensure all women and girls are given the opportunities they deserve. And, every year on 8 March, we mark International Women’s Day to raise awareness of these issues.

The theme of this year’s day is investing in women to accelerate progress. This means developing, financing and implementing transformative solutions to advance gender equality and sustainability in the face of cascading global concerns and crises. UNESCO does this, hand in hand with its partners, in all the areas of its mandate.

First, to better understand the negative impacts of gender discrimination on economies and societies, UNESCO has developed a Gender-Based Resilience Framework, “Empowering women for the good of society”. It underlines the importance of closing the gender gaps in labour, innovation and sport – but also in leadership and decisionmaking, in line with our new podcast being launched today: Leadership for Equality.

In the field of education, we empower women by teaching them the skills they need for greater economic and social autonomy – for example, through our flagship programme “Her education, our future”. This year, we are telling the story of four girls whose lives have been changed by this initiative in a documentary released on 7 March.

We are also committed to ensuring that women and girls can thrive in scientific fields – especially given that women only account for one third of all researchers, according to the UNESCO Science Report. In 2022, to break down barriers in STEM fields, we supported 5,550 women and girls through mentorships, role models and career development programmes. And, since 1998, through the L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science programme, we have recognized more than 4,200 talented women scientists in over 140 countries around the world.

In the creative industries, too, UNESCO is working to create professional opportunities for women. For example, with the Walt Disney Company, we are partnering with Women in Animation and its 2024 “Stories x Women” programme to give up to a dozen women animators – especially from Africa – a chance to pitch projects at the Annecy International Animation Film Festival in France.

Finally, UNESCO shines the spotlight on the difficult conditions facing women journalists – 73% of whom face online violence, according to our research – and is working with governments, judges, digital platforms and the media to create safer working conditions and fight online harassment.

Achieving women’s empowerment remains one of humankind’s greatest challenges and, at the same time, an immense opportunity to realize humankind’s full potential. This year on International Women’s Day, UNESCO calls for immediate action to bring about this paradigm shift – now.

 

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