I believe that investing in women and girls in all their diversity will deliver big economic and social returns for countries and societies. The Generation Equality Forum offers an opportunity to highlight that investing in gender equality is not only fair, but also smart and necessary to recover fully and sustainably from the pandemic. This makes the timing of the Forum really exciting, as it represents an important global moment to drive ambitious commitments and place women at girls at the heart of recovery as we build-back from COVID-19.
At the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, we are big believers in multi-stakeholder partnerships. In my view, social and political change requires multiple perspectives and multiple levers. If you really want systemic change, you have to take a whole-of-society approach that is not purely political or purely technical, but instead offers an integrated way of approaching key issues. That is why I like the Action Coalition process, because it brings together diverse stakeholders, skills and experiences to deliver a comprehensive outcome.
At the heart of gender equality is the right of every woman and girl to have control over her body. For this reason, one of the priority actions in our Action Coalition is leveraging the potential of self-managed care, for example by making self-injectable contraceptives and HIV self-testing more widely available and accessible so that women and girls can take control over their own reproductive health.
During the pandemic we have seen how important it is to expand opportunities for self-managed care when health services are interrupted. Central to this effort is placing the perspectives and needs of women and girls at the centre of decision-making, rather than treating them as an afterthought.
Supporting women and girls’ bodily autonomy also requires us to engage communities to address harmful, patriarchal social norms and to provide girls and boys from a young age with gender-transformative SRH information, through age-appropriate Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) in- and out-of-school.
I see so much potential in the cadre of exciting, dynamic, visionary girls and young women in the world. I feel we have a responsibility to create an environment to help them realize their vision, which is filled with real hope and potential for change. I’m hoping that the Generation Equality Forum will highlight the voices of these young women, build their momentum and energize the broader feminist movement, which is very much needed as we rebuild from this pandemic. Every single girl that we lift up and invest in is going to have a huge impact on her family, community and country, and this is extremely motivating for me.
Make your organizational commitment to gender equality by June 18, and read more about the Action Coalitions.
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InfluencHER: GEF Special Edition II: Our Bodies Are Our Own