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International Women's Day: Embracing Equity

FILE - Women attend a protest against legislative bias against women on the International Women's Day in Abuja, Nigeria, March 8, 2022.
FILE - Women attend a protest against legislative bias against women on the International Women's Day in Abuja, Nigeria, March 8, 2022.

As nations around the world mark International Women’s Day, this year’s theme calls for embracing equity over equality — acknowledging disparities that disadvantage women and allocating resources to address them.

The annual day of recognition on March 8 celebrates the achievements of women and identities calls to action to promote empowerment. Some of the wide-ranging missions of this International Women’s Day include encouraging inclusive work cultures and gender parity in technology, championing women's health and celebrating women change-makers, creatives and athletes.

Spotlighting the global digital gender gap, the United Nations says 37% of women do not use the internet despite making up nearly half of the world's population. It warns that women are significantly behind as 75% of jobs will be related to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields by 2050.

Hilda Suka-Mafudze, the African Union ambassador to the United States, says it is important for African countries to prepare women for the future.

“It's the era that we are saying in African countries should invest more into the infrastructure of technology to ensure that women also who are studying STEM programs” are successful, Suka-Mafudze told VOA.

AU Ambassador to US Talks Women's Digital Empowerment in Africa
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Suka-Mafudze says she hopes to connect technology-based diaspora organizations in the U.S. with women on the continent.

On Monday, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned that gender equality is on track to take “300 years,” as women's rights are “abused, threatened and violated around the world.”

Ruwadzano Makumbe, a Zimbabwean legal practitioner and international human rights advocate, says despite persistent challenges, some progress has been made in empowering women and girls around the world.

“We now have more girls in schools, and we also have more women in higher positions of leadership, both in businesses, in the private sector, as well as in public service,” she said, attributing the progress made to "advocacy both at the local and international level and this [International Women’s Day].”

“If our society is alive to the challenges that women and girls are facing, it means that we will make an effort to remove the barriers that females are facing,” she added.

VOA's Esther Githui-Ewart and Mike Hove contributed to this report.