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International Women’s Day (IWD) 2024: Together we can forge women’s empowerment by Protecting the future of Our Young Girls

Each year, on March 08, the world marks International Women’s Day (IWD). In a world facing multiple injustices that are putting immense pressure on communities, achieving a world free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination. A world that’s diverse, equitable, and inclusive. A world where difference is valued and celebrated. Ensuring women’s and girls’ rights across all aspects of life is the only way to secure prosperous and just economies, and a healthy planet for future generations.

Entrepreneurial Projects by Women in Togo at Centres Sociaux Loyola.

This year 2024, The United Nations International Women’s Day (IWD) theme: “Invest in women: Accelerate progress”. It aims at tackling economic disempowerment. The campaign theme for the same year is ‘Inspire Inclusion.’ The value of empowerment and diversity in all spheres of society is underscored by this campaign. Additionally, the theme of the campaign emphasizes how important inclusion is to achieving gender equality.

In a brief by Ms. Saima Wazed, WHO Regional Director for South-East Asia, published by the World Health Organization-WHO, “Women in our Region are facing various barriers to access to services, such as lack of a female health provider. They also face constraints of a lack of access to household resources and transport, long distances to health facilities and weak decision-making powers. Violence against women and girls remains unacceptably pervasive. This is nothing less than a violation of their human rights, and a priority public health issue. In our Region, more than one in three women will experience intimate partner violence in their lifetime. We need to increase investment to effectively prevent and respond to this violence, and to capacitate the health sector to play its role. Evidence-informed gender-responsive health policies and programmes can help reduce these gender gaps in health. Most countries in the Region have adopted such national plans. However, their capacity to implement them needs strengthening.”

According to the African Union Commission, Despite the contribution women make to health systems and supporting the realization of health for all, women hold only 25% of senior leadership roles in the sector. If leadership roles were allocated on merit, then since women are 70% of health workers, 70% of health sector leaders would be women. This is the opposite of the current situation where men hold 75% of leadership roles but are only 30% of health workers. The African Union Commission urges different stakeholders to address the gendered leadership gap in healthcare that needs to be filled among other challenges.

As part of the Africa Health Strategy (2016–2030), the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and the Catalytic Framework to end AIDS, TB, and malaria by 2030, AJAN is uniting on this International Women’s Day to support the call for strengthening leadership and governance as well as empowering women, youth, and adolescents to expand social protection to address equity. Aspiration 6 of the African Union’s Agenda 2063, “An Africa where development is people-driven, relying upon the potential offered by people, especially its women and youth and caring for children.”

On International Women’s Day, Pope Francis calls for an applause for women, saying “they deserve it,” while praising their “tender hearts” and “ability to construct a more humane society.”, Pope Francis text for an audience with people participating in a March 7-8, 2024 conference, “Women in the Church: Builders of Humanity,” he said, “And because the Church is herself a woman — a daughter, a bride and a mother,” he wrote, “who better than women can reveal her face? Women “know how to bring people together with tenderness, With their unique capacity for compassion, their intuitiveness and their connatural inclination to ‘care,’ (they) are able, in an outstanding way, to be for society both intelligence and a heart that loves and unites, to bring love where love is lacking, and humanity where human beings are searching to find their true identity.”

Women Entrepreneurial Projects at Centre Maisha, Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The preferential option of the poor serves as inspiration to us today, “walk alongside the poor, those whose dignity has been wounded, the excluded and those who society deems worthless, in a mission of reconciliation and justice.” This choice, which is highly valued by the Church, is also fundamental to the Society of Jesus’ mission and today’s IWD celebration. For the Jesuits, this means joining Christ in his mission to create a world in which justice and faith serve as the guiding principles for all that is done. For all of us as collaborators in Christ’s mission it entails lessening the social and economic marginalization of the most marginalized including women, our young girls and vulnerable youth in order to promote and enhance  the dignity of the human person.

It is crucial to make sure that women are leaders in their communities and that their role in taking care of their families does not inhibit their growth in the workforce, and their communities. Thus, we are appealing to you and all of us to stand in solidarity with women everywhere today. We pray that women who are underprivileged, weak, or marginalized will be included as contributing members of society and will be given the chance to flourish.

Together we can forge women’s empowerment. Collectively we can all #InspireInclusion.

Pope Francis Prayer on IWD 2024, “When the voices and experiences of women are heard, all of society is truly enriched. Let us Pray together that, through encounter and dialogue, “the genius of woman” may be allowed to flourish in today’s world.” 


By, Dennis Owuoche

AJAN Communications Officer

Ismael Matambura



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