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.

This year the international theme is "Think equal, build smart, innovate for change."

SISWP President Anusha Santhirasthipam sends us a message about this important day.

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Dear Sister Soroptimists, friends and supporters,

"Think equal, build smart, innovate for change" is the theme for International Women’s Day 2019. What does this mean for us as women with families, women in business and profession, women leaders and social activists?

It means we need to focus on innovative ways to advance gender equality and the empowerment of women. We live in an increasingly challenging world where women still get the short end of the stick when it comes to equal pay and job security, social protection systems, access to public services and sustainable infrastructure.

UN Women has warned that based on current trajectories, existing interventions will not suffice to achieve a Planet 50-50 by 2030. We must disrupt “business as usual” in a man's world! Remove structural barriers and ensure that no woman and no girl is left behind.

Innovation and technology provide vast opportunities for women to bridge the gender digital divide. But this means we must empower more women and girls to prosper in the fields of science, technology, engineering, mathematics and design.

Women from all walks of life must be encouraged be innovative and influence change. From mobile banking to artificial intelligence and the internet of things, it is essential that women’s ideas and experiences be included in the design and implementation of the innovations that shape our future societies.

As Soroptimists influencers and advocates, we are in a position to engage with industry leaders, game-changing start-ups, social entrepreneurs and women innovators to invest their time, energy and resources to expedite progress that ensures gender equality. These stakeholders must be convinced to invest in gender-responsive social systems, and build services and infrastructure that meet the needs of women and girls.

#BalanceForBetter is a call to celebrate a future where women and men truly enjoy equal opportunities. We live in an era where innovation and technology creates unprecedented opportunities for women and girls to play an active role in building more inclusive systems, efficient services and sustainable infrastructure to achieve gender equality and SDGs.

Let's celebrate these new pathways to progress and remain steadfast in the face of resistance! We are women of substance and we know our worth and recognise our collective power to break down barriers, evolve humanity, safeguard our families, environment and Planet. #MorePowerfulTogether

Anusha Santhirasthipam
Federation President
Soroptimist International of the South West Pacific

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