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Beside not Behind by Pragna Sree, 9th Grade, Uganda

There is a saying that behind every man’s success is a woman. This indeed is a credit for women but I would like to make a slight change in the phrase which I think would be more apt in this modern time. I believe the saying now goes as “beside” not “behind”. As I look back on the impact my mother has imparted on me I can proudly say that she has shaped me to be someone without any gender bias and this played an influential role in making me who I am today!

Since the time I was little, I was beginning to understand why 8th of March was celebrated as Women’s International Day. This day is marked to honor the achievements and recognize the contribution of women and girls around the world, who are building a sustainable future for all.

In the past decades, we have seen great advances in women’s development and their rights in terms of equal access to education, employment, public resources and services as well as family and property. However, as we are painfully aware, such is not the case in all parts of our world. We know that discrimination against women still exists, be it in written or unwritten form. We know that our sisters are still struggling for access to basic necessities and services, education, health, equal pay and freedom from violence and poverty.

The world is still grappling with a lot of hurdles faced by women. In some countries sadly, from the time of birth she is treated as a financial burden and in others, mutilated even before being born. While in some other places, women can't even read or write. Sadly parents choose marriage over education and get their daughters married at an early age. Unfortunately, in some countries, entering adulthood they are pressurized to get married even to older men if need be. A woman doesn't even have a right to make decisions and succumbs to domestic violence, sexual abuse and relegated to play a subordinate role in the society.

It is a euphoria that the 21st century sees a gender equal world with no stereotypes and discrimination, free from bias, but did we achieve it? Is it even possible to have a safer and gender equal society in the near future. Let us all pause for a moment to reflect on how much women have evolved but not all of us are there yet.

The issue of this gender inequality is a global one.

Fortunately today many organizations are coming forward to promote female participation in all decision making posts, empowering them and striving towards a more equitable world.

Each of us are born with individual qualities and potential. What is important is to believe in oneself and surface all our capabilities putting to use all our potential. And also believe that we can at least impact our society if not the world.

The challenges are many but we can overcome them if we collectively change the viewpoint of people and break the bias. Women need to be united, and support one another other in order to develop and move forward. We need to know that we are not alone and that real support is available. So avail this support and help women achieve an equal position as men in future, free from stigma, stereotypes and violence; a future that’s sustainable, peaceful, with equal rights and opportunities for all, which every woman desires and deserves. To get us there, the world needs women at every table where decisions are being made.

Failing to take that step forward, they will continue to struggle and encounter

violence, conflict and discrimination.

The empowerment of women is a lengthy process but not impossible. If we all strive, we can achieve create a niche for ourselves.

Together we can !

Together we will !!

Hats off to all the women who have made us proud by taking the step forward and reaching the pinnacle of success.