March 05, 2015

International Womens Day, 8 March 2015. Theme: 'Empowering Women - Empowering Humanity: Picture It!'

Editor: International Women’s Day this year will highlight the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action adopted by 189 governments meeting in China 20 years ago.

Janet Wood rsm (right - Parramatta Congregation) teaching a group of African Refugee women at Mamre House, Orchid Hills, New South Wales. Mamre works with refugees offering education, support, employment, citizenship services and through farming opportunities on the Mamre farm. Photo used with permission.

That coming together set the agenda for realising women’s rights and 'continues to guide the global struggle against constraints and obstacles to the empowerment of women around the world', said Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary -General.'When we empower women and girls, we will realize a better future for us all.'

In his opening address at ‘A Woman’s Place is in the World!’ conference in Dublin ten days ago to mark the 20th anniversary of the UN Beijing Platform for Action on women’s rights, President Michael D Higgins said that although achievements have been made, 'there remains a significant journey... to full equality' with 'many immediate and longer term challenges'.

President  Higgins has accepted a United Nations invitation to be a global champion for the rights of women and girls, becoming one of the group of ten champion world leaders for the UN HeforShe campaign, 'a global effort that aims to engage men and boys, one half of humanity, in removing the social and cultural barriers that prevent the other half of humanity from achieving their potential.' (President Michael D Higgins).

For members of the Mercy family, this day, this theme, this challenge and the aspirations voiced by President Higgins and the UN Secretary-General echo the sentiments expressed by Catherine McAuley who wrote, ‘ ... that no work of charity can be more productive of good to society, or more conducive to the happiness of the poor than the careful instruction of women, since whatever be the station they are destined to fill, their example and advice will always possess influence...' (Rules and Constitutions of the Religious Sisters of Mercy, Chapter 2 'Of the Schools').

May Catherine's optimism give us hope and her words strengthen our resolve as we act with mercy for justice.

In her message for International Women's Day 2015, UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka says gender parity must be reached before 2030, so that the sluggish trajectory of progress that condemns a child born today to wait 80 years before they see an equal world can be reversed. She calls on all countries to “step it up” for gender equality, to reach ‘Planet 50:50’ before 2030.

Messages to:
Mary Reynolds rsm - Executive Director MIA
President Michael D Higgins

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