Jan 21, 2015
A reporter once asked a child from Darfur what he wanted to say to the world if given a chance, and the child answered, "We are here. Please don't forget us."
I can still recall the horrific pictures circulated on email of children struggling to survive from poverty and war. There was one picture I could never forget...that of a child sitting lifeless with his head bent on his knees and a large hawk stood behind him, looking and waiting to take him as prey. The pictures exposed the realities of life that people who have not seen nor gone through it, could ever imagine as really happening. But it is happening and not just in Darfur. It is happpening in Horn of Africa now and in other parts of the world.
As we marked the Universal Children’s Day (http://www.un.org/en/events/childrenday/) on November 20, I pondered over what have been achieved for the millions of children suffering from so many unfortunate tragedies in life…from being victims of poverty, to being child soldiers or laborers, trafficked humans, or victims of domestic violence.
Almost half the world - over three billion people, still live on less than $2.50 a day. 22,000 children die each day due to poverty. Approximately 790 million people in the developing world are still chronically undernourished, almost two-thirds of whom reside in Asia and the Pacific.”
In all the efforts to eradicate poverty and many of these problems, the woman’s role is critical. Statistics show that women produce 80% of the food in poor countries. Yet women are more likely than men to be poor and at risk of hunger because of discrimination they face in education, health care and employment.
Many are deprived of their basic rights and dignity. They are given less importance in society where the male is viewed as the dominant figure. As such, women are not given the opportunity to be fully empowered to achieve what they are really capable of.
However, women empowerment IS happening. Despite the obvious resistance from other societies whose cultural belief is that women have no significant role to play, women have established an undeniable niche in society. The contributions of women leaders have helped shape the world’s view of how far and wide women empowerment can reach. The emergence of high profile female world leaders like Corazon Aquino, Indira and Sonia Gandhi or Benazir Bhutto speaks for itself. Laws passed to increase the number of women in elected posts recognizes their importance.
To rephrase the words of the child from Darfur, "We are here. You can't ignore us. We will make things happen."