This Year’s International Women’s Day Message Is To ‘Step It Up’

Every year, the world celebrates Women’s Day on March 8, which can be largely attributed to the suffragette movement at the beginning of the twentieth century, but the UN Women‘s page describes the origins more specifically.

“The first National Woman’s Day was observed in the United States on 28 February. The Socialist Party of America designated this day in honour of the 1908 garment workers’ strike in New York, where women protested against working conditions.”

One hundred eight years later, this day is still recognized, but with the message that there is still much work to do.

UN Women has a page devoted to International Women’s Day, but the organization has also been busy promoting a sustainable development agenda for 2030, and this year it’s called “Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step It Up for Gender Equality.”

The UN Women organization released a video promoting this initiative, but despite that, this campaign is different from the one last year. The organization has been working to make this message of equality clear for years starting when — according to the site — Millennium Development Goals were drafted in 2000.

International Women’s Day is a reminder for the world to take these goals seriously. However, the organization has felt that some of the reports are still showing, more specifically, that many societies are falling behind.

One active contributor to the gender equality movement who also happens to be a goodwill ambassador for UN Women, is actor Emma Watson, who The Inquisitr wrote about recently on her HeForShe campaign, asking that men to pick up the cause and stand along with women for gender equality.

Woman's Day highlights World Economic Forum results for gender equality, Emma Watson present
Ten of the world’s leading companies have released new workforce gender diversity figures, including details on leadership roles and board membership, in UN Women’s inaugural HeForShe Parity Report. The unprecedented disclosure was announced at the World Economic Forum in Davos, where many of the firms’ heads gathered alongside Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women, and UN Women Goodwill Ambassador Emma Watson. [Photo by UN Women / Celeste Sloman via Flickr | CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]

The Voice Of America formed a report which looks at the status of gender equality in America in light of international Woman’s Day.

The report happens to rate the United States at 28, off a list of top 10 nations who are making the effort, using data from the World Economic Forum which Watson was at, and mentioned in the article by The Inquisitr.

IRIN reported a gathering of women in Kabul to celebrate International Women’s Day, which stated that despite the issues the country still has with domestic violence, forced marriages, and other violations of human rights against women, that the election of the first three women into the cabinet and first female provincial governor was celebrated as a step in the right direction.

The citizen journalist site, Global Voices, put together a report of women from Tajikstan who helped build their country by creating businesses through Facebook.

One such society, however, becomes central to the issue of human rights since the Arab Spring of 2010, which is Egypt.

Much like the article by Global Voices, the Egypt Independent also put together some names of strong women, but could not avoid at least one mention of the post-Arab Spring regime under al-Sisi.

Almost a year after the ousting of Egyptian president Mubarak in 2011, the Washington Post reported that women who came out to Tahrir Square for Women’s Day were met with hecklers, told to go home, and were even groped.

“At Tuesday’s march, men scolded protesters and said their concerns were not urgent in the aftermath of the uprising. When the women argued back, some were verbally abused or groped. Others were beaten and had to be ripped away from the groups of men.”

Google has released a video to celebrate Women’s Day and in it Cairo, Egypt, was mentioned, which might say something about the company’s stand against human rights abuses.

Last January, activists who were in Tahrir Square to remember those who were killed during the Arab Spring protests were met by militarized police where activist Shaimaa al-Sabbagh was shot by an officer.

This year, The Guardian reported that the conviction against the officer was overturned by the Egyptian court, which according to the source, has been standard practice for officers involved in the violence against protesters during the famous protest.

Shaimaa’s group Tha’era — a network of women activists — created the hashtag #Solidarity_with_Shaimaa, asking that the officer be convicted with “intent to kill” rather than “unlawful death,” via their Facebook page.

The site Egyptian Streets goes into more detail about the history of Women’s Day in Egypt, and verify the real problems facing the people of Egypt today.

Women's Day is really Men's Day in Egypt
In this photo provided by Egypt's state news agency, MENA, Iraqi President Fuad Masum, center, reviews an honor guard with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, in Cairo, Egypt, Monday, March 7, 2016. (Mohammed Abdul Moaty/MENA via AP)

Thus far this year, there have been stories coming out which continue to press the issue of gender equality in the Eastern parts ofhe world, such as a story featured on NPR Morning Edition where they spoke with a filmmaker who documented the fight against stigma and community by a young woman who was shot by her father and left for dead in Pakistan.

Also this year, physicist Stephen Hawking announced the 10 nominees for the Varkey Foundation’s Global Teacher Prize, which includes three women who are from Afghanistan, Finland, and Palestine.

Should these be the perspective of what measures the world is taking to ensure gender equality? Is International Woman’s Day celebrating real achievements or used as cover for those issues?

[Featured image by Al Jazeera English via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0]