Supported by the United Nations, the theme for this year’s International Women’s Day (IWD) is “Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step It Up for Gender Equality.” The United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) expired unfulfilled in 2015, giving way for carefully mapped out Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that ought to be achieved by 2030. Building on the MDGs, the new agenda has a stand-alone goal for gender equality and women empowerment all over the world.
Currently celebrated in over 40 countries, IWD 2016 is very significant as it marks the first since governments across the world agreed to promote gender equality and empower females by 2030. In commemoration of IWD here are five things everyone should know about this special day:
The idea of IWD dates back more than a hundred years. The IWD started as a socialist political event wrapped around the idea of advancing women’s suffrage through a day to mark their contribution to humankind.
The first was organised by German socialist and theorist, Clara Zetkin, in March 1911 and saw over a million people from Switzerland, Denmark and Germany celebrate it along with hundreds of demonstrations across the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
International Women’s Day has its roots in the clamour of women being given their rights to vote, rights to hold public office and for a better pay check. It wasn’t until last year, that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia gave women voting rights. In America, there’s a wage gap issue where women earn 78 cents to a man’s dollar and this statistic is for white women only. African- American women earn 67 cents for every dollar a man earns while Hispanic women earn 54 cents in the same comparison. As forward moving as we’d like to think we are in the 21st century, only 19 out of the 193 current Heads of State are women.
IWD 2016 theme
The UN’s first celebration of International Women’s Day was on the 8th of March, 1975. Every year since then, the body has put the focus on the status of women around the globe. This year’s target is to celebrate the achievements of women throughout history, but more importantly, it is to promote gender equality and women empowerment across the globe which is in line with SDG 5.
Why it is important
According to The Times of India, besides other motivations surrounding political public office, the pay gap and voting rights, there is an increasing awareness of the abuse suffered by women. An estimate of over 100 million girls under the age of 20 have been victims of rape and other forced sexual acts. Worse than the crime itself, is the culture of silence and stigmatization surrounding these issues. Even in advanced countries like the UK, convictions for rape are still quite low.
Reports by the World Economic Forum states that although the number of women in the global workforce have increased by a quarter of a billion than it was over a decade ago, they still earn a paltry sum in comparison to men.
The UN’s thoughts on International Women’s Day
“We have shattered so many glass ceilings we created a carpet of shards. Now we are sweeping away the assumptions and bias of the past so women can advance across new frontiers.” – Ban Ki-moon
To achieve planet 50-50, there should be a focus on advancing individuals, as opposed to fulfilling gender quotas in the workplace; women should be judged based on their individuality, not gender.