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"Let’s make sure women and girls can shape the policies, services and infrastructure that impact all our lives. And let’s support women and girls who are breaking down barriers to create a better world for everyone." — UN Secretary-General, António Guterres

International Women’s Day is a time to reflect on progress made, to call for change and to celebrate acts of courage and determination by ordinary women who have played an extraordinary role in the history of their countries and communities. It is also an opportunity to consider how to accelerate the 2030 Agenda, building momentum for the effective implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, especially Goal number 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls; and Goal number 4: Ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning.

The 2019 theme Think equal, build smart, and innovate for change focuses on innovative ways in which we can advance gender equality and the empowerment of women, particularly in the areas of social protection systems, access to public services and sustainable infrastructure. The achievement of the ambitious Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) requires transformative shifts, integrated approaches and new solutions, particularly when it comes to advancing gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls.

Key targets of the 2030 Agenda are to end all forms of discrimination against all women and girls everywhere, eliminate all forms of violence against all women and girls in the public and private spheres, including trafficking and sexual and other types of exploitation and eliminate all harmful practices, such as child, early and forced marriage and female genital mutilation.

We, at World Assembly of Youth (WAY), believe that empowerment for women and girls are vital to the development of societies. Today, however apparent progress in gender equality may seem, many efforts still need to be engaged towards a society where gender equality is absolute. Towards such efforts, we, at the World Assembly of Youth (WAY) continue to partake in the global initiatives for enlivening the principle of gender equality. In line with this year theme “Think equal, build smart, innovate for change”, we urge young women to avoid all harmful practices, such as: child, early and forced marriages and female genital mutilation. They should be working to realise their true potential as part of a gender neutral society, and strive even harder to alleviate the hardships still being faced by fellow women, around the world.

On this International Women’s Day, let us call upon all stakeholders to be courageous to stand for gender equality and a vision of a world where all women and girls have equal opportunities and rights.