Here at alive, our March issue may be about men’s health, but today is all about women—it’s International Women’s Day (IWD)!
How far have we come since the first IWD?
International Women’s Day takes place on March 8 every year, and was first observed on 1909 as a Socialist Party of America political event. Since the first IWD, much progress has been made for women’s rights.
According to the United Nations Association of Canada (UNA-Canada):
- the enjoyment of human rights without discrimination on the basis of sex has been included in the constitutions of many countries
- violence against women is seen by the international community as a clear violation of women’s rights
- “incorporating gender perspectives into regular programmes and policies has become a priority at the United Nations and in many member states”
Clearly, there has been some remarkable progress. However, much more has yet to be done to achieve full equality. The rights of women vary significantly from country to country, and even here in Canada (a country that is considered a leader in women’s rights) there are still many issues, such as an ongoing wage gap. According to the Parliament of Canada, women working full-year, full-time in 2008 earned only 71.4 percent as much as their male counterparts.
Some examples of the many issues facing women globally include:
- the trafficking of women
- how women often have different and unequal access to and use of basic health resources
- how the majority of people living in poverty are women (“the feminization of poverty”)
- the ongoing violence against women
- how refugee women face ongoing violations of their human rights
Why should everyone care about International Women’s Day?
The status of women in a society is tied to other important markers of that society. According to the UNA-Canada, the Canadian International Developmental Agency “has observed the links between the status of women and the attainment of other social and economic objectives.”
Women’s rights affect everyone. According to Oxfam, for instance, “ending hunger begins with women’s rights … Women grow, process, market and prepare much of the world’s food. In many places, they are also the keepers of seeds and protectors of water.” However, women are not receiving the rights they deserve.
How to celebrate