Marked annually on 8 March, International Women’s Day commemorates the growing awareness in human race about bringing about gender-equality to the global population. A growing number of people, both male and female, are supporting the equal opportunity principle and are gearing up to make it a palpable reality. Female population of the world is also coming forward to vociferously campaign against discrimination and its complaints are now widely heeded.
The campaign for equality waged by women around the world conveys a decisive feeling of agitation as Women’s Day is largely ignored in many countries particularly in the developing world. Huge women populations in developing countries are discriminated against and their rights are grudgingly conceded to them and portrayed as granting them as a favour.
The movement for removing barriers against women emancipation is a long-drawn affair as the first Women’s Day was observed in New York in 1909 and it was followed by Europe that started marking it on 8 March since 1914 in support of women’s suffrage. The first country to make the day an official holiday in 1965 was the former Soviet Union. Women’s Day became an international event when United Nations started marking it as International Women’s Day in 1975. Currently, it is an official holiday in 27 countries showing that it does not have a true global acceptability.
Over the last 100 years, women in many countries have successfully secured labour rights and protection from violence, access to sexual and reproductive health and rights as well as reach the highest positions of leadership. But if seen in its entirety the clamour for equal rights is a century old issue but if females still are claiming it then the obduracy of the male chauvinism could be well be gauged.
It also reveals that the original goal of achieving full global gender equality is still a long way off. The statistics bear this contention out as the World Economic Forum expects that the current gender gap will take at least 108 years to close and 202 years for economic gender parity at the current pace of change. This certainly is a tall order and requires to be addressed urgently.
It is estimated that one in three women is likely to face violence in her lifetime. Most of the public services, urban planning and transport system are rarely planned keeping in view women’s safety and mobility. 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. According to statistics compiled by the UN, 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.
The most encouraging aspect, however, is that women have taken up the challenge in earnest and are now on the path of reversing the course of existence with a view to make it amenable to their needs and desires. It is expected that International Women’s Day will keep on reminding the human race about its responsibilities with respect to the fairer sex. TW
Hoor Asrar Rauf has remained a swimming champion and is a budding entrepreneur