The 8 March is devoted to celebrating the achievements of women and seeking gender equality. Indeed, this day is not a second Valentine's day, so we do not need chocolate or flowers, we need equal rights and opportunities.
Today we must remind our governments that much must still be done to achieve equality.
Women are still less paid, find themselves more often in precariousness, victims of domestic and/or sexual violence and some of them are stopped to get education or run for public office.
"Gender equality is a question of power. The patriarchy, with millennia of power behind it, is reasserting itself."-says United Nations (UN) Secretary-General António Guterres.
Gender equality globally
The COVID-19 pandemic did not really help progress towards achieving gender parity. It will take 132 years to close the global gender gap, at the current rate of progress, according to the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Index.
The index benchmarks 146 countries across four key dimensions (Economic Participation, Educational Attainment, Health and Survival and Political Empowerment) and tracks progress towards closing gender gaps over time. Of the four gaps tracked, Political Empowerment remains the largest, with only 22% closed – and having widened since 2020 by 2.4 percentage points.
The gender pay gap remained the second largest of the gaps, with only 58% closed so far.
Today however, should also be about gratefulness for all the heroes that helped achieving so much:
civil rights, LGBTQ+ rights, labor rights, children’s rights. We should remember women who also accomplished great things in every field, including medicine, science, literature, and politics.
Susan B. Anthony's vital role in the women's suffrage movement changed the course of history. Emmeline Pankhurst, a British political activist helped women earn the right to vote in elections by organizing the UK suffragette movement. Pakistani education activist, Malala Yousafzai inspires young girls everywhere. An assassination attempt by Islamic fundamentalists could not dampen her spirit, and she fought back with a bestselling memoir and won the Nobel Peace Prize at 17.
On a personal level I should also be grateful because:
-compared to my grandmother's time, I can use contraception and decide whether I want children;
-unlike my mother 30 years ago, I can report to the police if I am physically or psychologically abused;
-I can have a carrier and run for public office (which would not have been possible a generation ago).
Today, we should also recognize what still needs to be done.
According to the United Nations, women make up 70% of the world’s 1.3 billion people in poverty. Of those displaced by climate-related disasters, 80% are women and girls.
The International Day is an opportunity for more focused education and awareness. Schools can find resources online or host events, workshops. For example, a clothing brand can provide education on the garment industry’s history of exploitation, as well as initiatives to improve the treatment of female workers.
It is also an opportunity to reflect on your own beliefs and craft a personal action plan. Think about areas where you might be uneducated or where you might have biases involving gender, sexuality, race, and so on. Commit to being more aware of your actions and educate yourself through books, or classes.
Today is key to understand that progress doesn’t happen by accident. International Women’s Day tells us to look at where we’ve been, see how far we’ve come, and keep fighting for more.