International Women’s Day is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women – while also marking a call to action for accelerating gender equality.
The first International Women’s Day occurred in 1911, supported by over one million people. Today, IWD belongs to all groups collectively everywhere. IWD is not country, group or organization specific.
Gloria Steinem, world-renowned feminist, journalist and activist once explained “The story of women’s struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organisation but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights.”
For the UN the theme for International Women’s Day (8 March) 2020 is, I am Generation Equality: Realizing Women’s Rights.
“The year 2020 is a pivotal year for advancing gender equality worldwide, as the global community takes stock of progress made for women’s rights since the adoption of the Beijing Platform for Action. It will also mark several other galvanizing moments in the gender equality movement: a five-year milestone towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals; the 20th anniversary of UN Security Council resolution 1325 on women, peace and security; and the 10th anniversary of UN Women’s establishment.’
The emerging global consensus is that despite some progress, real change has been agonizingly slow for the majority of women and girls in the world. Today, not a single country can claim to have achieved gender equality. Multiple obstacles remain unchanged in law and in culture. Women and girls continue to be undervalued; they work more and earn less and have fewer choices; and experience multiple forms of violence at home and in public spaces. Furthermore, there is a significant threat of rollback of hard-won feminist gains.
In such a world order what can we do to help the situation.
Individually, we’re all responsible for our own thoughts and actions every single day. We can choose to actively challenge stereotypes, fight bias, broaden perceptions, improve situations and celebrate women’s achievements. Collectively, each one of us can help create a gender equal world.
Gender Equality is not just a women’s issue, it’s a business issue. Economic justice and rights need to be addressed in our daily lives. The race is on for the gender equal boardroom, a gender equal government, gender equal media coverage, gender equal workplaces, gender equal sports coverage, more gender equality in health and wealth and individually we can make it happen.
We are all parts of a whole. Our individual actions, conversations, behaviors and mindsets can have an impact on our larger society. Collectively, we can make change happen. Collectively, we can each help to create a gender equal world.
And these actions should not be limited to Women’s Day. They must integrate in our lives for any change to actually take place. Days like these provide a unified direction to guide and galvanize continuous collective action, but they must be reinforced and amplified all year.
2020 is here, and we have the opportunity to put women’s rights centre stage. The world has made unprecedented advances, but no country has achieved gender equality.
Fifty years ago, we landed on the moon; in the last decade, we discovered new human ancestors and photographed a black hole for the first time.
In the meantime, legal restrictions has kept 2.7 billion women from accessing the same choice of jobs as men. Less than 25 per cent of parliamentarians were women as of 2019. One in three women experience gender-based violence, still.
Let’s make 2020 count for women and girls everywhere.
What you can do
- Believe in yourself, find the courage to defy gender stereotypes
- Speak up for human rights, support and empower those around you.
Learn from women role models, there are so many!