Equality Now Launches “100 Steps To Equality” Campaign for 100th Anniversary Of International Women’s Day

4 March 2011

Lakshmi Anantnarayan, +1 212 586 0906, lanant@equalitynow.org

On the momentous occasion of the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day, March 8, 2011, international human rights organization Equality Now calls on the public to take 100 Steps to Equality. Globally, one in three women has faced some form of violence or abuse; 3 million girls in Africa are at risk of female genital mutilation (FGM) every year, an estimated 500,000 women die of pregnancy-related causes annually; and more than 100 million girls will probably be married as children in the next decade. But what does the status of women look like on the ground every day in different parts of the world?

Despite a popular uprising calling for democracy in Egypt, an all-male constitution committee is currently drafting amendments that would exclude women candidates from Presidential elections. Just a few weeks ago in Afghanistan, the government was trying to take over the operation of women’s shelters, a move that would undoubtedly jeopardize the security of women victims of violence. Last year in the United States, despite advocates’ intensive efforts, Congress failed to pass several pieces of legislation that could have saved the lives of women and girls including: the International Violence Against Women Act, the Girls Protection Act (a bill to strengthen the federal law against female genital mutilation (FGM), or the International Protecting Girls by Preventing Child Marriage Act (a law that would have enabled a comprehensive response to child marriage prevention around the world). Equality Now’s list of 100 Steps includes one hundred current facts and instances of women’s inequality and ties them to actions, however small, that individuals can take towards equality and a safer world for women and girls.

Equality Now Executive Director Taina Bien-Aimé emphasizes, “Nationally and internationally, women’s movements have registered significant progress in the last 100 years, from the right to vote to recognizing FGM as a human rights violation to the possibility of owning land. This is due to the determination of courageous individuals brave enough to challenge their governments’ lack of political will; hold them accountable to their promises in protecting women and girls from violence and discrimination; and to the advocates’ ability to persuade the average citizen to join them in taking action. May the next 100 years deliver full equality to all, a critical key for economic development, eradication of poverty, human security and democracy. Being born female cannot be in so many corners of the globe a sentence of deep suffering or even death.”

As the 100 Steps to Equality clearly illustrates, much work must be done to advance women’s rights, but research shows that funding and support for women’s rights fall short and are rapidly dwindling. In the meantime, each individual can: call, donate, write a letter or send an email to ensure governments change laws and policies that negatively affect the fundamental rights of women and girls.