New York, 8 March 2020 (MIA) – International Women’s Day is a time to reflect on progress made, to call for change and to celebrate acts of courage and determination by ordinary women, who have played an extraordinary role in the history of their countries and communities.
The world has made unprecedented advances, but no country has achieved gender equality.
Fifty years ago, we landed on the moon; in the last decade, we discovered new human ancestors and photographed a black hole for the first time.
In the meantime, legal restrictions have kept 2.7 billion women from accessing the same choice of jobs as men. Less than 25 per cent of parliamentarians were women, as of 2019. One in three women experience gender-based violence, still.
Let’s make 2020 count for women and girls everywhere.
The theme of International Women’s Day 2020 is, I am Generation Equality: Realizing Women’s Rights. The theme is aligned with UN Women’s new multigenerational campaign, Generation Equality, which marks the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, the most progressive roadmap for the empowerment of women and girls, everywhere.
This year we will also be celebrating other major UN anniversaries, such as the 10th anniversary of the establishment of UN Women, among others.
The emerging global consensus is that despite some progress, real change has been agonizingly slow for the majority of women and girls in the world. Today, not a single country can claim to have achieved gender equality. Multiple obstacles remain unchanged in law and in culture. Women and girls continue to be undervalued; they work more and earn less and have fewer choices; and experience multiple forms of violence at home and in public spaces. Furthermore, there is a significant threat of rollback of hard-won feminist gains.
The year 2020 represents an unmissable opportunity to mobilize global action to achieve gender equality and human rights of all women and girls.
International Women’s Day (March 8) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity.
The first IWD was observed on 28 February 1909 in the United States following a declaration by the Socialist Party of America. The idea of having an international women’s day was first put forward at the turn of the 20th century amid rapid world industrialization and economic expansion that led to protests over working conditions.
In 1910 the first international women’s conference was held in Copenhagen by the Second International and an ‘International Women’s Day’ was established, which was submitted by the important German Socialist Clara Zetkin, although no date was specified.
The following year, 1911, IWD was marked by over a million people in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland, on March 19. Furthermore, on the eve of World War I, women across Europe held peace rallies on 8 March 1913. In the West, International Women’s Day was commemorated during the 1910s and 1920s, but dwindled. It was revived by the rise of feminism in the 1960s. Demonstrations marking International Women’s Day in Russia proved to be the first stage of the Russian Revolution of 1917.
Following the October Revolution, the Bolshevik feminist Alexandra Kollontai persuaded Lenin to make it an official holiday in the Soviet Union, and it was established, but was a working day until 1965.
On May 8, 1965 by the decree of the USSR Presidium of the Supreme Soviet International Women’s Day was declared as a non working day in the USSR “in commemoration of the outstanding merits of Soviet women in communistic construction, in the defense of their Fatherland during the Great Patriotic War, in their heroism and selflessness at the front and in the rear, and also marking the great contribution of women to strengthening friendship between peoples, and the struggle for peace. But still, women’s day must be celebrated as are other holidays.”
In 1975, which had been designated as International Women’s Year, the United Nations gave official sanction to and began sponsoring International Women’s Day.