It was one of the great days of my life when I had an opportunity to volunteer during the launching ceremony of UN Women’s HeForShe campaign for gender equality in September last year. I was stunned to hear UN Women’s Goodwill Ambassador Ms. Emma Watson’s speech live at the United Nations headquarters.
She left us some questions to ask ourselves for standing up for gender equality and women empowerment, “If not me, who? If not now, when?”
These words went straight to my heart.
I was the man – number 84, to take the commitment to be a HeForShe after United Nations Secretary General Mr. Ban Ki-moon became the first ever signatory of this campaign.
As they say, every person makes a difference. I started utilizing my networks in Pakistan and worldwide. I asked my friends and fellow global citizens to be the ambassadors of this campaign and be the example for the youngsters and students in their country. Soon, HeForShe became my introduction. I always tell people that I am a HeForShe and a concerned global citizen.
Women Face an Ocean of Issues
It’s very sad to write that even in the 21st century and modern world, women are being targeted and victimized just because of their gender. From their childhood, they are victimized. Their rights to education is being turned down in many parts of the world.
Somehow if they succeed, they get trouble to chose their professions. Not many of them can be an engineer because it’s a so called man’s profession. It’s just one example. Their access to education becomes limited as soon as they grow up. Their mobility gets struck because they might face “not good men” outside. They can’t drive in many part of the world. Countries like Saudi Arabia banned women from driving. In many countries, they need permission from their husbands or families to move from one place to another.
When a girl reaches the age of 18, they are left with no choice but to get married. Forced marriage without the consent of bride is not a marriage but just a compromise. In many countries in South Asia and Middle East, their marriage is usually kind of arrange marriage. If they dare to refuse to marriage, their lives are being taken on the name of honor killing and even governments don’t care.
When women get a job after completing their education and acquiring skills, their salaries are not same as us men’s. It’s not just a third world countries issue but it’s a big issue in the most developed countries. Women earn 77% of the work they do as compare to the men who gets 100% of the same work.
They waste many years of their lives just to equalize their salaries with men. They are facing many professional obstacles despite having great education, skills, and talent.
They are just few issues out of the ocean of issues they face in the daily life of a woman.
Calling Men and Boys
Let me ask my fellow young men and boys a few questions:
Can men and boys live without education or have limited access? Can you compromise on your mobility? Can you compromise on your marriage and marry someone without knowing them and with huge age difference?
Can you compromise on getting less salary even working hard? Can you live in the world where you are prohibited to own a land on your name? Can you face violence because of living the life of your choice?
In short, can you live a life of a woman?
If your answer to above questions is NO, then just think about living with these problems on daily basis. We have a shared responsibility. Be a HeForShe advocate for the women and girls. It’s time to stand up against any culture, custom, norms or traditions which makes women vulnerable and does not give them equal rights.
Make a commitment for your life and stand up just not for your daughter, wife, sister or a friend but for your neighbour and other global citizens.
At the end, your words or just signing up won’t matter, but your actions will.
Be the Light
It’s time to unite our efforts and achieve the common goal of gender equality and stop the violence against women.
It’s such a shame. I can’t compare those actions with animals because they have the sense of love and respect for each other. It’s not just about condemnation, it’s about doing something and contributing to a big cause.
We don’t just need to curse the darkness but to turn on the light ourselves.
Be the He For She and be proud of it!
International Women’s Day
March 8th is International Women’s Day! Let us do something incredible together: every one of us can take a pledge personally and invite 10 people in their communities at least to join this solidarity movement. Be the ambassadors of HeForShe in your schools, colleges and communities. Every parliamentarian should take a pledge, starting from the heads of states. They should go to their constituencies and spend their times in addressing gender inequality issues.
The teachers should teach students about their rights and responsibility to ensure gender equality and women empowerment. This should be our core part of our syllabus and education system.
All those companies, organizations and institutions should apply equal wage rule, otherwise get blacklisted! Let’s name and shame those who feel proud to hit a woman to show their dominances as a man.
Youth leaders should organize seminars and sessions with the communities and aware masses about human rights focusing gender equality. I think it’s about peer-to-peer education and coming forward for making it happen. Everyone of us have the potential and ingredients to be the CHANGE we want to see in this world. The action toolkit for He For She campaign is available here.
Gender Equality and Respect for Women is the Key to Our Future
I salute Ms. Phumzile Malambo, Executive Director of UN Women for her tireless advocacy and being the champion for girls and women worldwide. She gives me great hope.
I salute Ms. Emma Watson for being a role model in this cause, whole UN Women, He For She Team, and dedicated volunteers.
My dear United Nations should also know that without ending violence against woman and gender inequality, there will be no sustainable development at all.
This issue must be addressed as an emergency for peaceful and prosperous future of the world.
In the end, just don’t forget that mankind exists because of the coexistence of men and women. Let’s live with love, peace and harmony without hurting anyone and by giving equal rights to everyone. Gender equality is our issue. Don’t wait for future.
It’s already happening now.