“Here’s to strong women. May we know them, may we be them, may we raise them.” It’s a quote that floats around from the captions on Instagram posts to the clinching line at the end of speeches celebrating the life of women everywhere. 5 years ago, PANAMA's 20th conference was named ‘The Year of The Women’; although each conference brings us one step closer to attaining global justice for women, it seems hard to believe that we still are yet to find ourselves at a point where we are treated with the same privileges, no- the same human rights that men are entitled to. In fact, we all face discrimination and our sisters living through crisis suffer even more. This is why this year, together, with the United Nations, we will focus on how to ‘EmPOWER Girls: Before, during and after crises’ with the International Day of the Girl.
As privileged members of society, we easily forget that access to healthcare, education, security and food is not universal. According to the UN Women's organisation, high school girls in areas of crisis are 90% more likely to be out of school than those in conflict free zones. The fact that this statistic seem somewhat obvious is the essential issue- we have created a culture which condones the normalisation of global injustice regarding women. Over a staggering 20 nations actively breach the human rights of women from the deprivation of education. The World Economic Forum Gender Parity Report has declared that over half of Pakistani girls are uneducated. This alarming violation of human rights not only compromises women’s future prospects for work and financial independence but derogates their self-worth.
The flagrant violation of women's rights concerning sexual abuse is an issue in which PANAMUN has been actively engaged in since the Year of the Woman. One in 6 women will have experienced attempted or completed rape. This shameful statistic epitomizes but a fraction of the brutality we are subjected to- how could we possibly find a place in a world which is so oblivious to the agony and pain inflicted upon us? In 2012 during ‘The Year of The Woman”, the ‘Special Committee’ addressed the urge to protect women from sexual violence in areas of conflict. “From the systematic rape of Bosniak women in the Yugoslav Wars to the abuses committed by peacekeepers in the Congo, this crime against humanity remains a fact of life for women in conflict zones.” Delegates were urged to build upon international law concerning this issue and engage in finding new solutions to put a stop to this war practice. This year’s Social, Cultural and Humanitarian Committee will be debating an issue regarding the measures to evaluate woman’s sexual and reproductive health and rights in prisons. Delegates this year will advocate towards attaining the rejected woman rights in countless penitentiary centres.
The truth is, gender inequality is pervasive in all economies- even those with ostensible equal opportunities. During ‘The Year of the Woman’, the Economic and Social Council’s issue was based on finding measures to ensure women’s economic empowerment and access to financial resources- this is referred to the ability for women to contribute, partake, and be recognized for their contribution to growth processes. Whether we are aware of it or not, we all suffer from the indomitable barriers levied through circumstances of gender. For our self-worth and confidence is what inconspicuously deteriorates little by little- from that time those kids told you that girls couldn't be doctors, when he said you were too easy, those boys who cat call you whenever your pass their lunch table, the appropriation of objectifying women in our favorite pop songs to the aspersion of women from the blatant use of phrases such as ‘like a girl’. Like a girl? Yes, and thank you. I am a girl – I am strong, I am intelligent, I am capable and I am independent; I deserve nothing short of being treated as such.
So, here’s to strong women. The ones who are out there championing our cause, the ones who are warriors in their own home, the ones who feel a fire within them but have yet to harness the flame to inspire actions yet. May we know them, may we be them, may we raise them, may we help others to become them. May we cherish this day to champion our sisters, because at the end of the day, she will need her sisterhood.