Driving through Central Mexico in the summer of 2019, billboards appeared along the rural highways denouncing violence against women. Disturbed, I wondered, could violence against women be so normalized that a national billboard campaign was needed? As it turns out, yes. Surveys by the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI) report two-thirds of women above age 15 in Mexico have experienced some form of violence. Many by the hands of a partner (44%). According to a recent article published by La
Photo: UN Women/Dzilam Méndez
Jornada, the number of femicides has grown 137 percent over the past five years.
"When women are undervalued and treated unequally, violence is both a cause and a consequence."
Photo: UN Women/Dzilam Méndez
When women are undervalued and treated unequally, violence is both a cause and a consequence. Gender-based violence is reinforced by discriminatory laws, social exclusion, and societal norms that undermine women and girl's opportunities for education, income, and independence.
The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) reports that Mexico is one of the countries with the highest levels of violence against women. Violence against women is a violation of the fundamental right to security. It affects their ability to participate in the public and economic life of the country.
"This has to change. Not only for moral and ethical reasons, not only as a matter of justice but also for economic reasons. As we pointed out in the Review of Gender Policies in Mexico that we conducted in 2017, if Mexico were to halve the gender gap in labor force participation, it could potentially add 0.16 percentage points to the annual rate of growth in per capita GDP to 2.46% per year. This would translate into an increase of around USD 1100 in GDP per capita, one of the largest pay-offs to greater gender equality in Mexico."
According to an article, Positive impacts from incorporating gender perspectives into the substantive work of the United Nations, the most well-known example of links between promotion of gender equality and achievement of development goals is education. Research carried out by the World Bank has shown that access to education by women and girls can improve family health, contribute to greater productivity, and reduce family size.
In pursuit of gender equality, we can find hope, and we can offer hope. Many global and local organizations and governments are prioritizing gender disparities and the necessity of championing women. For example, Mexico has taken great strides in improving gender parity. In 2017, women compromised 40% of seats in Congress due to the 2015-2018 National Programme for Equality between Women and Men (PROIGUALDAD). Twice a year, the U.N. highlights the importance of women and girls to our world.
Today, March 8th, we celebrate International Women's Day, recognizing women's social, economic, cultural, and political achievements.
Research demonstrates that increased incomes for women benefit family welfare greater than the benefits of increasing men's income.
Women naturally tend to spend their income on health, food, and schooling, which benefit the whole family.– Positive impacts from incorporating gender perspectives into the substantive work of the United Nations
We can all join together to advocate for women and girls for a better world. Here are a few ways you can support women’s empowerment.
Keep Girls in School
When girls stay in school and finish secondary education, they enjoy better health, live longer, marry later, earn higher wages, and are more active community life participants. Foster a girl's love for learning through supporting a child at Ojalá Niños through monthly giving at https://www.ojala-ninos.org/program
Support a Woman-Owned Business
Shop and support women-owned businesses and support women's cooperatives, like Manos y Corazones de Otomies–a cooperative formed by the mothers in San Miguel de Veijo. The courageous women learn creative art and business skills, form healthy communiy and are role-models to their children, while earning meaningful income. You can shop their products at https://commonprojectmarket.com/collections/manos-y-corazones-de-otomies.
Spread Kindness and Share Wisdom
Want to encourage and empower girls and women? Tell women that you care. Start right in your own home, workplace, and community. Write a note of thanks to a teacher, friend, or colleague who has encouraged you with her strength and wisdom. Mentor a girl by volunteering as a guide or guru in Ojalá Niños learning programs. Learn more here https://www.ojala-ninos.org/volunteering