Seychelles President James Michel sent a message on this International Women’s Day, March 8, 2016, on the importance of this special day.
As we join the rest of the world in celebrating International Women’s Day, we are inspired by the vision and renewed commitment for a better and fairer world.
Indeed, we are reminded that gender equality remains for the majority of the world’s women, a distant reality. At every level, there are still too many barriers preventing women from enjoying their basic human rights.
Seychelles is fully supportive of initiatives that seek to elevate the quality of life of all human beings. That is why I am urging our population to rally behind this year’s international theme “Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step it up for Gender Equality.”
Whilst the theme may be asking us to look far ahead, it is nevertheless very much concerned with the present. We cannot time travel into the year 2030; it is a journey that we have to take day-by-day, step-by-step. And every little step counts for it is what we do today that will determine the kind of society that our children will live in. We, therefore, have to make the present count. The targets of 2030 – a more equal planet – will only be achieved through continued hard work, determination, commitment, and political will.
This year’s International Women’s Day is an opportunity for Seychelles to take stock of our realities. We should be excited about the future, because we are standing on solid ground. When we look at the 2030 Agenda and implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) concerning gender equality, we are proud to note the remarkable progress that has been achieved. We should never take these achievements lightly. We should never dismiss international comparisons about our human development ranking and brand them as irrelevant. They are relevant, because it is a reminder to our population of the progress we have made; it is testimony to the quality of life we enjoy.
On this International Women’s Day, let us, therefore, renew our efforts to sustain and surpass our achievements. We can make our society better for all our women and men, girls and boys. The future is bright. When other countries discuss how to ensure that all girls and boys complete free, equitable, and quality primary and secondary education by 2030, we in Seychelles should ensure that our girls and boys appreciate the value of education, that they understand the difference that education can make in their future, and seize all opportunities before them. When governments are being urged to end all forms of discrimination against women and girls, we must remember that our government has never wavered in its determination to ensure that every person is guaranteed the full social, economic, and legal protection to enjoy all the opportunities and rights that is theirs as Seychellois.
“Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step it Up for Gender Equality” should make us all pause and reflect. Where do we see ourselves in 14 years’ time? Will we still be speaking of gender-based violence as a pressing challenge?
Our challenge is to make the next transition. All provisions and structures currently in place guarantee equal opportunity to every woman and man in Seychelles. But government cannot legislate its way into people’s private spaces. We must now stand up for ourselves. We must know our rights and must make it our responsibility to fulfill them. This is the Seychelles we aspire to see in 2030. An empowered Seychelles and empowered Seychellois – a Seychelles where our women are not just equal to our men before the law and in the public sphere but also in the private domain through relationships and partnerships that are built on mutual respect, trust, equality, and love.
I take this opportunity to pay tribute to all the women in Seychelles. Thank you for the support you provide every day in making our families, workplaces, and communities richer and better places. Thank you for the invaluable roles you play as mothers, professionals, as caregivers, and leaders.
On behalf of government, I wish all women in Seychelles a very happy International Women’s Day.
Seychelles is a founding member of the International Coalition of Tourism Partners (ICTP) .