From Jungsook Kim, President of ICW to mark International Women’s Day 2021

ICW-CIF Statement to Commemorate the International Women’s Day

March 8, 2021

The International Council of Women (ICW-CIF) wholeheartedly embraces the
theme for International Women’s Day, 2021 promoted by UN Women: “Women
in Leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world”. ICW-CIF
stands, since its inception some 133 years ago, for women’s empowerment and
leadership by helping women to help themselves, to take initiatives, to promote
their status and wellbeing and to promote understanding between women
everywhere, irrespective of race, colour or creed.

It must be noted, however, that this past year the COVID-19 pandemic has laid
bare social and economic inequalities and vulnerabilities around the world. It has
demonstrated once again, that in periods of crisis, women’s livelihoods and jobs
are at far greater risk than men’s. To overcome this, the situation requires the
exploration of community resilience and coalition building, to achieve an equal
future, creativity, and the finding of new possibilities.

This requires a strong alliance among all sectors of society. Above all, people
must be given the tools to meet the conditions and challenges to improve their
lives through mutual support, self-help, and empowerment. Unfortunately,
despite the fact that women generally stand in the frontlines of meeting the
challenges posed by COVID-19, all too often governmental responses are not
gender-responsive and are inadequate to address the additional burdens faced by
women. It is therefore essential for governments to put gender equality at the core
of their objectives in government stimulus and rebuilding actions.

COVID-19 has highlighted the need for greater funding to ensure effective and
immediate community response. Accordingly, at a time when policy-makers need
to secure social and economic stability and growth, resilience and inclusive
rebuilding should include the achievement of an equal future, by reinforcing the
role of women in leadership positions.

ICW-CIF encourages women to pick the right opportunity, analyse strategies and
proceed with their implementation, keeping in mind that creation and creativity,
which share the same roots, are built-in genes in women….

ICW-CIF asks to see women leaders grow in every aspect of society, not only
under normal circumstances, but also under difficult conditions, such as those
imposed by the pandemic. Transformative and normative change necessary to
challenge gender inequalities requires meaningful participation of women and
women-led organizations.

Taking into account the insights learnt from COVID-19, ICW-CIF requests that
its members and supporters assist policy-makers in harnessing the economic
power of women in driving the economic recovery from the pandemic, and in
supporting gender-inclusive growth, advocating in the following areas:

– Accelerating the prevalence of women’s leadership and women’s involvement
in decision-making

– Investing in social infrastructure and family-friendly policies

– Eliminating all forms of violence against women and girls

– Accelerating advances in developing women’s workforce competencies through
enhanced professional and vocational training

– Encouraging women’s entrepreneurial initiatives

More than ever, this is the time to firmly march forward in our movement toward
equality while, at the same time, providing invaluable support in conquering the
severe impact of the pandemic. This can be realized through increasing the
numbers of women in important leadership positions and improvement in
women’s organizations practices, policies and programs, so as to create an
enabling and rights-based environment in which women can enjoy equal rights
and opportunities while engaging as responsible actors and innovators in helping
to solve societal problems.