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Smart Take | International Women’s Day 2024: “Invest in women: Accelerate progress.”

March 8, 20242:08

Sarah Barnes, Director of the Wilson Center's Maternal Health Initiative, joins us to talk about the meaning of the theme of International Women's Day 2024, "Invest in women: Accelerate progress." She comments on how investment in women and girls is essential for progress on any of the UN's Sustainable Development Goals, how gender equality contributes to peace and stability, and how the work at the Maternal Health Initiative helps to advance girl’s education and women’s health worldwide.

Video Transcript

  • This transcript has been lightly edited for clarity.

    This theme is really important and it's multifaceted. And how they came to it, I think, is to support that idea that people can take this theme in a multitude of different directions. 

    So for us, you know, our work at the Wilson Center, we would particularly look at the Sustainable Development Goals, for example, and we could look at progress towards each of these goals, like no poverty, good health and well-being, education, adequate and fair work, climate action, clean water and peace. All of these...for progress to any of these, investments in women and girls must be made. 

    And research does show that gender equality so the equal ease or access to resources and opportunities, regardless of one's gender, is a really strong predictor to peace and stability in a state or a country. 

    So I think that's why they've come with such a broad theme to talk about investments and progress. And I think the end goal of progress when we're talking about International Women's Day tends to be gender equality We tend to look at the intersection between gender equality and global health equity. And there's several different areas that we focus on, but three primary areas that I think are really related to this year's theme would be one, investments in girls education.

    Girls education is key to opening up all other doors towards equity and equality. Second would be investments in women's health to include perinatal periods, so the time of pregnancy and postpartum, but not only including maternal health periods. So like looking across a life span. Third pillar that we really focus on would be investments in women's paid leave. And I would say for this theme, really the unpaid work. So looking primarily at caregiving, a role that has historically fallen to women globally.


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Sarah B. Barnes

Director, Maternal Health Initiative
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Maternal Health Initiative

Life and health are the most basic human rights, yet disparities between and within countries continue to grow. No single solution or institution can address the variety of health concerns the world faces. By leveraging, building on, and coordinating the Wilson Center’s strong regional and cross-cutting programming, the Maternal Health Initiative (MHI) promotes dialogue and understanding among practitioners, scholars, community leaders, and policymakers.  Read more