Celebrating International Women’s Day 2017 - Message from the Secretary General of WOSM
Today, the world commemorates International Women’s Day to acknowledge the important roles and achievements of women in their respective communities.
For over a century, since the first National Women’s Day was observed in 1909, along with the signing of the Charter of the United Nations in 1945 (affirming the principles of equality between women and men), the world has been endeavouring to promote women’s rights. It has been an effort in all aspects of equality – gender, social, economic – and in full respect for human rights.
Today, in the 21st century, we are still advocating for such rights and striving to achieve equality in many parts of the world. What is reassuring, however, is that the support and voice of global movements have strengthened. Governmental and non-governmental institutions, public and private organisations, have also stepped up to ensure the empowerment of women across the globe.
The World Organization of the Scout Movement (WOSM) is one of the organisations that consciously promotes equal opportunities for both women and men since its inception over 100 years ago. We are a non-formal educational movement for young people open to all, without distinction of gender, origin, race or creed, in accordance with the purpose, principles and method conceived by our Founder, Baden-Powell. He had stated that “If she is to be equally efficient with her brother for work in the world, a girl must be given equal chances with him; equal chances for picking up character and skill, discipline and bodily health, and equal chances for using these when she has got them.”
The Scout Movement has been greatly enriched and diversified with girls and women taking an active role and contributing to the Movement. Today, there are close to 14 million women being enabled with knowledge and skills through the non-formal education offered in Scouting. This has also empowered girls and women to improve their own lives and enabled them to contribute their talent and resources to serve and create positive change in their communities.
Our structures, programmes and activities are open to all, where both girls and boys, women and men, are encouraged to learn, cooperate and take on leadership roles at all levels. We encourage meaningful learning experiences for all in an inclusive environment that supports diversity.
Our Movement has been fortunate to have had talented women serving at all levels; we have women in leadership roles on the ground with various local Scout groups, working directly with young people as adult volunteers; we have several women serving in the World Scout Committee providing leadership to WOSM; we also have several young women as Youth Advisors who are elected to advise the Committee. As Secretary General of WOSM, I am personally committed to promoting more women in leadership positions in the organisation.
Scouting’s mission and goals are very much aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Goal #5 focuses on gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls. We believe that when we provide equal opportunities to women and girls, we will also be able to better address other world issues and move closer towards achieving multiple SDGs, such as eradicating poverty, having a world with zero hunger, a world with peace and justice for all.
To create a better world, we need to allow and extend all opportunities to girls and women. But equally as important, boys and men need to continue in their efforts to better understand and support equal rights and responsibilities. In addition to the energy and endeavours made by young people in striving for equality, we take this opportunity today on International Women’s Day to call on adults and all organisations to work together and commit to ensure equal opportunities for all so as to bring positive change to our world.
Happy International Women’s Day!
World Organization of the Scout Movement