International Women’s Day (IWD) began to be observed in the early 20th century as oppression and inequality was spurring women to become more vocal and active in campaigning for change. Women began demanding shorter work hours, better pay, and voting rights, marching through New York City in 1908. By 1910 women were organizing internationally.
Today International Women’s Day is an official holiday in many countries, Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, China (for women only), Cuba, Georgia, Guinea-Bissau, Eritrea, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Madagascar (for women only), Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Nepal (for women only), Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Vietnam and Zambia.
There has been a significant change and attitudinal shift in both women’s and society’s thoughts about women’s equality and emancipation. More women are in the boardroom. There is greater equality in legislative rights and an increased critical mass of women’s visibility as impressive role models in every aspect of life.
However, 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. Even in the United States, the insidious war on women continues to wage on.
This year’s International Women’s Day theme is Inspiring Change. This simple slogan reminds us that statistics show that
Although women make up more than 50 percent of the global population, less than 20 percent of parliamentary seats are filled by females.
Women make up 80 percent of those displaced by conflict and are often victims of sexual violence. Yet, they are largely excluded from formal peace proceedings — women have been involved in peace negotiations only once in 13 times since 1992.
Women produce up to 80 percent of food in developing nations, but still have difficulty accessing funding, technical support and even ownership of the land they work on and are likely to be paid less.
In education, 10 million more girls than boys are out of school and women make up two thirds of the world’s population that cannot read
Women are often paid much less than men in the same job functions and less likely to be acknowledged and promoted in the workplace.
These facts might seem surprising to us, but the truth is that we exist in a world where many women do not have basic rights to empower themselves educationally, economically or in matters relating to policy and governance. Women must continue to fight for the rights of all women and girls until equality is finally achieved.
And, of course, there is a Google Doodle!