Girls climbing trees: A matter of life and death
This International Women's Day I had the opportunity to support UN Women National Committee Australia, photographing the Melbourne Fundraising Breakfast event. IWD is a global day celebrating the economic, political and social achievements of women. It is also a day to review how far women have come in their struggle for equality, peace and development, but most important it is an opportunity to highlight how much more still needs to be done.
As a visual storyteller, I had no idea just how much this event would impact me; over 24 hours later I'm still reeling from the harrowing statistics shared by panellists Hiba Qasas, Smriti Aryal and Janelle Weissman as they pointed out some of the unfathomable statistics of what it means being born a girl in certain countries, the unexpected ways in which enforced gender roles prevent girls and women from saving their lives during natural disasters - but also how relatively inexpensive it is to make meaningful and long lasting positive change. Take a moment to consider the following:
Women account for an average of 94% of the death toll following natural disasters; they are 14 times more likely to die than men.
Peace agreements last 20% longer when women are involved in peace processes. Women must have a seat at peace-making tables.
One in five women experience gender based violence following disaster or conflict.
Conflict and disasters DO discriminate. In some countries, girls weren't allowed to climb trees. This meant there was no escape at times of catastrophic flooding.
When women participate in decisions in infrastructure there's a 44% decrease in the need to walk 60 minutes for necessities such as water.
In Cox’s Bazar refugee camp, it costs just $1500 to set up a sowing centre which will help over 16,000 Rohingya refugee women.
The story I will tell from this event is one that focuses on hope and the future; that we can achieve change, and that organisations such as UN Women are at the forefront of this progress through their support projects around the world alongside advocacy work both the Australian and overseas governments.
When disaster and crisis strike, women and girls are impacted differently, they die in greater numbers and their livelihoods are hit harder. This International Women's Day UN Women Australia want to ensure that no woman is left behind when disaster or crisis strike. You can show your support to women in need by supporting their IWD campaign here or by sending a text and giving just $5 to buy a solar light for one woman, just text HELP to 0497 222 444 to give today.
A huge thank you to Tracey Spicer, not only as the event's MC, but for your tireless effort supporting social justice and equality.