Did you know that today is International Women’s Day? Also known as the United Nations (UN) Day for Women’s Rights and International Peace, International Women’s Day is held each year on March 8th to celebrate the achievements of women over time and around the globe, and to note that while women have come quite far throughout history, there is still a long way to go before women experience the full benefits of equality.
The day has a long history; according to the IWD website:
“International Women’s Day has been observed since in the early 1900s, a time of great expansion and turbulence in the industrialized world that saw booming population growth and the rise of radical ideologies.”
“The new millennium has witnessed a significant change and attitudinal shift in both women’s and society’s thoughts about women’s equality and emancipation. Many from a younger generation feel that ‘all the battles have been won for women’ while many feminists from the 1970’s know only too well the longevity and ingrained complexity of patriarchy. With more women in the boardroom, greater equality in legislative rights, and an increased critical mass of women’s visibility as impressive role models in every aspect of life, one could think that women have gained true equality. The unfortunate fact is that women are still not paid equally to that of their male counterparts, women still are not present in equal numbers in business or politics, and globally women’s education, health and the violence against them is worse than that of men.”
Differences in treatment in terms of pay, working conditions and health are evident around the world, but the statistics in terms of violence are staggering. Just yesterday in the United States, President Obama reauthorised the Violence Against Women Act but, according to the United Nations, violence against women is still at levels that should be considered unacceptable:
- Up to 50% of sexual assaults are committed against girls under the age of 16.
- Globally, 603 million women live in countries where domestic violence is not yet considered a crime.
- Up to 70% of women in the world report having experienced physical and/or sexual violence at some point in their lifetime.
- Over 60 million girls worldwide are child brides, married before the age of 18.
The bottom line? Globally, there is still much work to do — but acknowledgement of that fact is, in and of itself, a great start.
“We never know how high we are
Till we are called to rise;
And then, if we are true to plan,
Our statures touch the skies.”
— Emily Dickinson, American poet
* International Women’s Day, is a public holiday in some countries including: