March 8th: a day to renew our commitment to gender equality
By Erica Marcos, Gender Advisor for the Save the Children's Civil Society Support Program.
For me, March 8 2020, was a milestone for two reasons. Firstly, because it is the day of the year where sisterhood and the sense of belonging is at its strongest. Last year we commemorated International Women's Day on the streets with friends who have become family. We sang, we shouted, and we also laughed for the joy of being alive, with the energy to continue fighting for those who are no longer with us and showing that we are united to protect women who are victims of violence. Secondly, because March 8 was my last day of freedom before confinement for COVID-19 started. My last memory of pre-COVID life is being part of this crowd of people diverse in gender and age, commemorating a fight that will not stop.
With the world's attention on the pandemic, inequality has increased. Girls and women have once again been the most affected. Due to the pandemic, women face an even higher burden of domestic labour at home, higher risks of experiencing gender-based violence in their homes, restricted access to sexual and reproductive health services, greater gaps in education, especially for girls who have to take on extra domestic labour or who do not have access to distance education, increased rates of adolescent pregnancy and early unions; these are some of the situations that are already being assessed as a direct impact of COVID-19. The most affected women are those living in rural areas, indigenous women, disabled girls and women, women in the context of migration and LGBTIQ + community.
After the first shock, I learned to balance home-schooling with working from home and caring for a new pet. For me, the work we carry out within Save the Children's Civil Society Support Program (PASC) has been a support and a motivation to continue practising my commitments to gender equality, both personally and professionally, which are renewed every March 8.
From the Civil Society Support Program, we are accompanying girls, boys and adolescents from the networks that we support, who demand action to address the specific gender-related challenges that children are facing during the pandemic. We are encouraged to see the progress of our partners towards more inclusive and diverse organizations, with whom we are promoting issues such as Comprehensive Sexual Education, the visibility of the needs and challenges of girls on the move, the development of gender indicators for the evaluation of national systems for the comprehensive protection of children and adolescents (SIPINNA) and a strategy to include fathers in parenting with positive discipline. These are some examples of how the PASC program is making significant progress that contributes to transformative change in our society.
Today we are again at point 0 in this new round of the calendar, where we renew our vows for gender equality as well as the energy needed to carry them out. This year will be different: we will commemorate this date from home (in a domestic labour strike) but always surrounded by our ever-growing group of friends and colleagues who share the same commitment. I am happy to be able to contribute to a more just and equal world for girls, boys and adolescents, and I am grateful to belong to an organization that fights for the same goal.