By Evelyn Birungi

This Monday, we celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women on International Women’s Day(IWD). Marked annually on March 8th, IWD is one of the most important days of the year to: celebrate women’s achievements, raise awareness about women’s equality, lobby for accelerated gender parity, fundraise for female-focused charities. This year, IWD is being celebrated under the theme “Women in leadership achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world” celebrates the remarkable efforts by women to shape a more equitable future after COVID-19.

While the COVID-19 pandemic deepened and magnified various issues in our systems, it also highlighted gaps like imbalance in gender roles and decision making. One of the biggest gaps illuminated was the absence of women in leadership positions. Taking a look at how the pandemic is disproportionately affecting women and girls from having to deal with paid work, housework and emotional work to the increased numbers of Gender Based Violence reports in the lockdown. The numbers reported were a reminder that like everything, pandemics are gendered in their impact.

But this has not stopped women peace builders from providing crucial security like informing the government about the needs of people in the community, to providing access to information on health care and social services. Women are at the forefront of the crisis, they show up as caregivers, doctors, nurses and community leaders making critical decisions.  This is recognized by the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) policy framework as a fact that women must be critical actors in all efforts to achieve sustainable international peace and security because they are directly affected in all situations.

It is important that women are deliberately supported, acknowledged and included in leadership to start to rebuild on a post pandemic life. Increased diversity and gender balanced leadership is an essential part of the plan in developing pandemic responses. This year’s theme is a reminder that despite the work put into the women peace and security world, there’s still much more to be done.

And as we celebrate International Women’s Day this year, we acknowledge the contributions and heavy responsibilities women carry. We stand to support women’s rights and continue to facilitate and champion women’s leadership. Every day is a chance to but we hope you start today. 

Happy Women’s day. 

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