This year's International Women's Day marked the tremendous efforts women and girls have made in shaping a more equal future and recovery from COVID-19.
Here are highlights of their work and journey toward self-realization:
Gaisu Yari from Afghanistan used to walk four hours a day to attend school and run a local radio program for young girls as a teenager. She realized that her voice mattered and that she had the power to shape the future of her young listeners, who were mostly girls.
Darjeeling Express, an Indian restaurant in London. Khan also runs a charity, Second Daughters, which sends celebration packages to families for the birth of their second daughter and supports her education.Her mother had to face society's ire for giving birth to a daughter again. After a doctorate in British Constitutional law, Khan changed course, and she now runs the
Schafer's grandmother owned half of their farm, and when his mother decided to study for a professional certificate, his father fully supported her decision. When he started working in development, he learned that not all women could access education, own land, or open bank accounts. Since then, he has made it a priority to help more women start a career and thrive professionally at the World Bank.
It's critical for women to take on leadership challenges
Gaisu, Asma, and Ramla work in fields dominated mainly by men.
Commissioner Yari notes that
Today,She says these women "never had glory, never got paid and they are the most professional of all." Through her restaurant, she is starting conversations about the rights of women and racism. "They must get a seat on the table," she says. Along with early investment, mentoring and bringing together role models is crucial.
Dr. Qureshi brings all these elements together in her work with World Bank's South Asia Women in Power Sector Professional Network (WePOWER), a growing collaboration of over 27 partners promoting STEM education and employment opportunities for women in the energy and power sector. She hopes that women in STEM will be the norm in her country soon.
Investing in women and girls must be done early on
Recalling a meeting with Afghan women leaders whose fathers' encouragement was crucial to their studying abroad, Schafer emphasized the need for men as fathers, brothers, colleagues to support women at critical junctures of their lives. As an institution, he shared that "When you hear directly from role models—who are the advocates of their own communities and have overcome barriers—and lift them up, that's the best evidence for us."
Photo Series: Showcasing inspiring South Asian Women Leaders