International Women’s Day is a day to honor the women in our lives, whether they are our mothers, mentors or soldiers. According to the UN, this is a day to “reflect on progress made, call for change and to celebrate the acts of courage and determination” by all women throughout the history of their communities and countries.
The first National Women’s Day was observed in the United States in 1909 in honor of the 1908 garment workers’ strike in New York which was held to protest against poor work conditions. In 1910, International Women’s Day was then established in Copenhagen to honor the movement for women’s right and to build support for achieving suffrage for women.
In 1945 the Charter of the United Nations became the first international agreement to affirm the principle of gender equality. Since then it has helped to create a legacy to advance the status of women around the world, and have promoted the participation of women as equal partners in “achieving sustainable development, peace, security, and full respect for human rights.”
Last year, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stated, “To be truly transformative, the post-2015 development agenda must prioritize gender equality and women’s empowerment. The world will never realize 100% of its goals if 50% of its people cannot realize their full potential.”
This year’s theme is “Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step It Up for Gender Equality”, and calls on everyone to consider how we can advance the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and realize the agenda’s objective to envision a world where all women and girls have equal opportunities and rights.
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are contained within the Agenda, call for “mobilizing efforts to end all forms of poverty, fight inequalities and tackle climate change, while ensuring that no one is left behind.” Within these 17 goals, goal number 5 (SDG 5) “Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls”, and goal number 4 (SDG 4) “Ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning” are key in the process of advancing women and girls’ rights and empowerment. According to the UN these are some of the most urgent targets that should be met:
- Ensure that all girls and boys complete free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education leading to relevant and effective learning outcomes.
- Ensure that all girls and boys have access to quality early childhood development, care and preprimary education so that they are ready for primary education.
- End all forms of discrimination against all women and girls everywhere.
- Eliminate all forms of violence against all women and girls in the public and private spheres, including trafficking and sexual and other types of exploitation.
- Eliminate all harmful practices, such as child, early and forced marriage and female genital mutilation.
Although much progress has been made there still remains a lot to do.
Last year, Deputy Secretary-General, Jan Eliasson, recalled that 20 years ago 12% of parliamentarians in the world were women, today that number has gone up to 22%, which is not enough. Women’s participation in the labor force also remains low, although it has been proven that economic growth is tied to the level of women’s engagement in it. Moreover, women’s economic autonomy underpins their political and social rights.
It is crucial that we continue investing in programs that promote gender equality, as it will bring many benefits for the entire society. For instance, GFDD’s ReCrearte program aims to raise awareness about environmental problems while promoting the protection of the planet and its natural resources, as well as to empower women, young people and children through individual recycling schemes with environmental benefits that can also be a source of income and entrepreneurship for people and communities.
To learn more about this initiative please visit: http://www.r3crearte.org/