International Women’s Day Explained

  • The International Women’s Day – marked annually on March 8 – is a global event to celebrate and support women’s rights while calling for gender equality.
  • The first country to make the International Women’s Day an official holiday was the erstwhile Soviet Union in 1965. However, the original goal of achieving full global gender equality is still a long way off

The first observance of international women’s day on a national level took place in New York on February 28, 1909. It was marked on March 8 in several European countries in 1914 in support of women’s suffrage. It is an official holiday now in only 27 countries, but the majority of them do not see it as a day for fighting for women’s rights.

Over the last 100 years, women in many countries secured labour rights and protection from violence, access to sexual and reproductive health and rights as well as reach the highest positions of leadership.

Women in many countries are still victims of female genital mutilation (FGM), have no right to pass on their citizenship to their children and are paid much less than men.

According to the World Economic Forum (WEF), the gender gap will take at least 108 years to close, and 202 years for economic gender parity at the current pace of change.

One in three women is likely to face violence in her lifetime, yet public services, urban planning and transport systems are rarely planned with women’s safety and mobility in mind, the UN says.

At least 740 million women make their living in the informal economy with limited access to social protection, public services and infrastructure that could increase their productivity and income security.

Women do 2.6 times more unpaid care and domestic work than men, with only 41 percent of the world’s mothers with newborns receiving maternity benefits, according to the UN.

READ ALSO: 30 Africa’s most powerful women in business

Celebrating International Women’s Day 2019 with 3 Quotes from three (3) Influential and Powerful Women in the World.

Chimamanda Adichie

International Women's Day
Adichie is a Nigerian writer and MacArthur Genius Grant recipient. She is known both for her novels and short stories as well as two TED talks: one entitled “The Danger of a Single Story” and the other called “We should all be feminists,” which was later sampled in the Beyonce song “Flawless.”

“I matter. I matter equally. Not ‘if only’, not ‘as long as’. I matter. Full stop.”

Adichie is a Nigerian writer and MacArthur Genius Grant recipient. She is known both for her novels and short stories as well as two TED talks: one entitled “The Danger of a Single Story” and the other called “We should all be feminists,” which was later sampled in the Beyonce song “Flawless.”

Zaha Hadid

International Women's Day
Hadid was made a Dame by Queen Elizabeth II for services to architecture in 2012. She is also the first and only woman to be awarded the Royal Gold Medal from the Royal Institute of British Architects, an award she received in 2015.

“I really believe in the idea of the future.”

Hadid was a British-Iraqi architect and the first woman to receive the Pritzker Architecture Prize, in 2004. She was known for her radical deconstructivist designs, which include the MAXXI museum of contemporary art and architecture in Rome, the London Aquatics Centre built for the 2012 Olympics, and the Lois & Richard Rosenthal Center for Contemporary Art in Cincinnati, Ohio—the first American museum designed by a woman.

Dr Mae Jemison

International Women's Day
WASHINGTON – MARCH 19: Mae Jemison, the first black woman to travel in space, speaks to students at Woodrow Wilson High School on March 19, 2009 in Washington, DC. The visit was part of an effort by First Lady Michelle Obama to bring successful women to area schools to talk about achieving their dreams. (Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)

“Never be limited by other people’s limited imaginations.”

Dr. Jemison is an American astronaut and physician and the first African-American female astronaut. She became the first African-American female in space in 1992 when she flew aboard the Endeavour with six other astronauts.

 

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