Cracking the Code

Why innovation for a gender equal future is the theme for a special day – 8 March

As the International Women’s Development Agency (IWDA) declares, “International Women’s Day is a day for us to join voices with people around the world, and shout our message for equal rights loud and clear: ‘Women’s rights are human rights!’”

IWDA continues: “We celebrate all women in all their diversities. We embrace their facets and intersections of faith, race, ethnicity, gender or sexual identity, or disability. We celebrate those who came before us, those who stand beside us now and those who will come after.”

The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day – ‘Cracking the Code: Innovation for a gender equal future’ – is based on the UN’s 67th Commission on the Status of Women entitled Innovation and technological change, and education in the digital age for achieving gender equality, and the empowerment of all women and girls.’

As the United Nations notes, “our lives depend on strong technological integration: attending a course, calling loved ones, making a bank transaction or booking a medical appointment…”

However, it reveals that across the globe, 37 percent of women do not use the internet and 259 million fewer females have access to the internet than their male counterparts – yes, even though they account for nearly half the world’s population.

“If women are unable to access the internet and do not feel safe online, they’re unable to develop the necessary digital skills to engage in digital spaces,” the UN asserts. And it explains that this drawback undermines their opportunities to pursue careers in science, techno-logy, engineering and mathematics (STEM) related fields.

By 2050, three-quarters of jobs will be associated with STEM – yet today, women hold just 22 percent of positions in AI, to name just one, it explains.

Here at home, Ruwandi Perera writes in her introduction to our Cover Story that “as Sri Lanka gears up to write its most crucial chapter yet, our women need to be given the opportunity to contribute their utmost – because it’s no secret that we need all hands on deck.”

“Power women have illuminated the path in all arenas – from the corporate world to sports, from education to fashion, from humanitarian missions to government and from homes to wherever life leads them,” she adds – so Sri Lanka’s women have made their mark in the past and they will continue to do so.

But that’s not to say that all is well.

In our research to compile the accompanying lists of directors and other high ranking officials in this country, we noted that the directorates of the 245 companies that were subject to review included only 258 female directors – and 70 didn’t have any.

Therefore, the need of the hour is progress – even if, as we said in the 2022 edition of Essence, it seems like a tall mountain to climb.

– LMD/Media Services

“The need of the hour is progress – even if, as we said in the 2022 edition of Essence, it seems like a tall mountain to climb