Aug 09, 2020

Women's day message from our CEO: Realising Women’s Rights

Article by Lizelle van der Merwe

CEO

FIA

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I am Generation Equality: Realising Women’s Rights – the theme for Women’s Day 2020.

There are still startling statistics about gender inequality. If you have a young daughter, niece, granddaughter or friend, I want you to pay attention to these statistics. Every day, 33 000 girls become child brides, each minute 28 girls are married before they are given an opportunity to become someone who they once aspired to be. In low income countries, there are approximately 781 million illiterate adults – two thirds of those are women and 63 million girls still need to go to school. To bring this reality closer to home, violence against women is rife where we live - South Africa is the country with the highest number of cases of violence against women in the world!  

I asked my 15-year-old daughter to share some of her thoughts about ‘Realising Women’s Rights” and this is what she said – “If I talk about what I experience as a teenager it may be unfair because we are all still maturing. Boys have such high standards for girls and see them as a trophy. There also seems to be less boys who care about girls, if they treat girls right, they are referred to as a “simp” by other boys and then they feel embarrassed.”   

I and am sitting here with a lump in my throat, what purpose would life serve if you have no choice or knowledge to change the situation? Every woman should be given the opportunity to choose who they want to be, how they want to live - not be told this is who they will become.

On a lighter note, I recently commented on an article shared by our partner – Liberty on the value women bring to the economy despite earning 27% less than men. What I appreciated most about this article is what I believe is at the centre of “Realising Women’s Rights” – if we are to shift the dial in womenomics, men (fathers, husbands, sons, colleagues, friends, brothers) should also be a part of this journey. This cannot be achieved without bringing people together from every gender, ethnicity, race, religion and country to drive actions that will create a gender-equal world. We cannot achieve this by women standing together, we need to conquer this by educating ourselves and the world around us.

I am proud to be a woman, I value my strengths and weaknesses, I am complimented by the strong women and men on my team. I take ownership of my life and therefore I am responsible for who I become. 

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