How did it begin?
The International Women’s Day celebrates women’s achievements in the world and it is a call to all of us to fight for a better, more gender equal world: a world where boys and girls, men and women, are treated equally, have the same rights and share the same opportunities.
This day didn’t come out of nowhere. Many brave women and men paved the way for the International Women’s Day to be celebrated worldwide.
The International Women’s Day can be traced to the United States of America in 1908, when 15,000 women marched through New York City demanding voting rights, better pay and shorter working hours. The National Woman’s Day was celebrated for the first time in the USA in 2019.
Two years later, Clara Zetkin, a leader of the Social Democratic Party in Germany, proposed the idea of an International Women’s Day. 17 countries agreed to her suggestion and the International Women’s Day was celebrated for the first time in Austria, Denmark, Germany, and Switzerland on March 19. In 1913, it was decided to transfer this day to March 8, and it has been celebrated on that day ever since. The day was recognised by the United Nations in 1975
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Why do we still celebrate it?
Full gender equality is yet to be achieved. Every day, women and girls are discriminated based on their gender – their rights are violated, their opportunities are taken away. They miss out on education, health, work opportunities and suffer violence simply because they are women. This must stop!
Gender Pay Gap
Women are almost half of the workforce but even when they have the same education and experience as men, they get paid less.
Even in the most developed countries like in the US and the UK, there is a gender gap between female and male employees across almost all occupations and industries. In developing countries, this is even worse.
Unequal Education Level
The number of educated women and girls worldwide is still lower than that of men. An obvious example of this is what we can see in our society even in the present day: parents only encourage their sons to pursue higher education while neglecting their daughters’ potentials due to many social and cultural barriers.
Violence against Women
It is not a secret anymore that women around the world are affected by violence – domestic or nor domestic one. The abuse and harassment that women are encountering are most of the time trapped by economic dependence of their partners and cultures.
Rape happens around the world every single day. And it really hurts my head to hear that women are still blamed for inciting the sexual-hungry instinct in men. It’s really suffocating when men are free to do whatever they want, but it’s a woman’s responsibility to stay safe.
Far too many girls are forced to marry early, risking their health and missing out on education and reaching their full potential.
Our society has a set of concepts about how men and women are expected to dress, behave and present themselves. Women are expected to dress in a politely feminine way while men are expected to behave aggressively, strongly and boldly. This is very unhealthy not only for women but for the whole society.
This is why women all around the world come together to advocate for their rights and celebrate International Women’s Day. If you’ve been struggling with the above-mentioned issues, remember that you are not alone. We can lift each other up!
Do your part!
* Support your women and girls friends
* Empower, motivate, encourage other women and girls that work or go to school with you to achieve their goals
* Speak up when you see that other girls and women are in danger of violence and sexual harassment
*Stay away from victim blaming including in social media
* Advocate for women’s rights – in your home, your school, your workplace your community! Every bit counts!
Views expressed here are those of the author’s and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of UNICEF.