2012-03-23 23:31:00 - What a tremendous month of March it has been so far. I am certain that all of you know that women across the globe have decided to move beyond the 8th of March as International Women's Day and on to an entire month of reflection, action and celebration.
On this 101st International Women's Day why is the 8th of March still necessary and important to stop, think and take action? Here are just a few chilling statistics:
In 2011, women were only 19.5% of the parliamentarians in the world
Out of 196 countries in the world, 17 (8.67%) have women as heads of government
Every 2 minutes in the U.S. domestic violence is inflicted upon a woman. Millions of women across the globe in conflict zone are victims of what has become a weapon of choice: rape
12 (2.4%) of the Fortune 500 companies are run by women
But there is also cause for celebration!!
In many African economies women are currently starting businesses at a higher rate than men
Out of the 29 presidential elections held in Africa from 2010 to date, 65.5% have had a woman candidate
In the U.S. for the 1st time in history, women are outnumbering men in earning graduate degrees
With 56.3% of its parliamentarians as women, Rwanda is the top-ranked country in the world on this key gender ratio
85% of countries in the world are improving on their global gender equity ratios
So let us continue to celebrate, to stop, to develop strategies and to act in order to ensure that more than half of the world's human resources are safe and able to fully contribute to our development as a world. It makes common sense!!
Personally, I have had the priviledge of discussing and celebrating this wonderful month with men and women in Cameroon and throughout the world. Here is the essence of a panel I participated in at the Women In the World Summit hosted by Newsweek and The Daily Beast in New York
And the link to the MSNBC show I did in Washington DC.
Back in Cameroon, we are continuing with discussions and celebrations with market women, women farmers, business women and women in politics. On our agenda are the traditional questions of women's participation in the economy and in politics, but we are very pre-occupied by the burning questions for Cameroonian women today.
Stolen Babies - It is becoming more and more evident with the case of Vanessa Tchatchou and other young women, that babies born in Cameroonian hospitals are not safe and secure.
We are reflecting on strategies to pressure the government into creating a safe environment for women who give birth in hospitals, especially government-run institutions.
Rape - Since the beginning of this year over 50 young women have been raped on the campus of the University of Soa.
No adequate response has been brought to this situation by the security forces in Cameroon.
Political Representation - As we approach the municipal and legislative elections, how do we ensure that women are significantly represented on every candidate list, so that we can address these issues and others that plague the very core of our society
So while we join our sisters globally in celebrating, we are focused on our immediate and urgent challenges, because as Cameroonian women, we have no choice, but to be a part of the solution that must be brought to our country.
As one woman put it, "let us have just one revolution in Cameroon and get both the democracy and the gender equity right once and for all!"
Kah Walla - Carlson for Africa-World