Observing International Women’s Day in COVID-19 Times
International women’s day (IWD) 2021 was unpredictable, just like most other events since the COVID-19 pandemic begun. Over the past years, it’s been commemorated with pomp, colour and flare at live events. This year, the United Nations gender thematic group – comprising UN missions, agencies, funds and programs gender focal points - organised virtual events for all UN staff in Somalia.
The events sought to connect communities and collaboratively forge positive change for women under the theme: Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world. The primary event was a town hall led by the Special Representative of the Secretary General for Somalia, Mr. James Swan, who shared remarks hailing women on their resilience during this time. In her speech, Head of UNSOS, Ms. Lisa Filipetto, said “Today, with the pandemic, gender inequality in society and particularly at the workplace puts women at a further disadvantage, given the inequities that have persisted. My compliments to women and men who have chosen to challenge gender bias and inequality against all odds - including COVID-19 - and are redefining, what leadership looks like.”
The town hall, held on 08 March, also emerged as an opportunity for women to demonstrate their resilience through the pandemic, how they found solace in adopting to Alternate Working Arrangements (AWA), learning new skills, activities, games, and beating many odds in unconventional means.
Viewed as a month-long event, a virtual staff party to celebrate women was held at the end of the month, featuring music from female artists. Staff also had a chance to showcase their talents.
The mission also ran an internal campaign featuring all staff under the tags: choose to challenge gender bias and inequality. It culminated in the development of the events backdrop: a banner of staff, participating in the #ChooseToChallenge pose with their hand high to show their commitment to choose to challenge inequality and help forge an inclusive world.
This year not only were women’s achievements in a COVID-19 world - demonstrating resilience economically, politically, and even socially celebrated, but also a call to action was made, to accelerate gender parity and rally for women’s equality.