Tuesday, March 8, 2011

8 March 2011: Today is the Centenary International Women's Day

Artwork by Google

A hundred years ago today, women around the world took an historic step on the long road to equality. 

The first ever International Women’s Day drew attention to the unacceptable and often dangerous working conditions that so many women faced worldwide. 

Despite being celebrated in only a handful of countries, over one million women took to the streets to demand not only improved working conditions but also the right to vote, to hold office and to be equal partners with men.

While advancement of women’s rights has been one of the most profound social revolutions the world has seen, those first courageous pioneers would likely view the world today with a mixture of pride and disappointment.

One hundred years ago, only two countries allowed women to vote. Today, that right is virtually universal. Women have been elected to lead governments on every continent and hold leading positions in professions from which they were once banned. 

Two-thirds of countries have specific laws that penalize domestic violence, and the United Nations Security Council now recognises sexual violence as a deliberate tactic of war. Yet police, the courts and many of our neighbours still see violence in the home as a wholly private matter. 

Despite progress, the hopes and dreams of those who marched that first International Women’s Day remain a long way from being realised. Globally, two out of every three illiterate adults are still women, and girls remain less likely to be educated than boys. 

Despite the knowledge, skill and resources to insure safe births, somewhere on this planet 
a woman will die in pregnancy or due to childbirth-related complications Every Ninety Seconds of Every Day. 

Globally, women continue to earn less than men for the same work. In many countries we have unequal access to land and inheritance rights. 

Despite advances, women still represent only nineteen percent of all legislators. Only twenty-eight women are heads of state or government.

It is not just women who pay the price for this discrimination. We all suffer for failing to make the most of half the world’s talent and potential. We undermine the quality of our democracy, the strength of our economies, the health of our societies and the sustainability of peace. 

This year’s focus of International Women’s Day is on women’s equal access to education, training, science and technology. At the same time, the global agenda remains; to secure gender equality and women’s rights in every country, in every corner of our globe.

1 comment:

  1. Wow. *Every ninety seconds...* That's a horrifying figure. I'm sure most of those deaths come from third world countries. My goodness. My heart goes out to these women.