International Women’s Day: A Day of Celebration, a Day of Reflection
By admin March 11, 2015


The International Women’s Day is celebrated worldwide as a day when women are recognized for their triumphs by finding a common occasion to celebrate both the achievements made and reflect on the work still needed. The observance marks an important United Nations (UN) initiative, first recognized under the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, signed by 189 governments two decades ago that outlined the ambitious agenda for realizing women’s right.

At its 20th anniversary, we can proudly say women’s rights have gradually climbed up the political agenda of many countries, helped largely by MDG3, with efforts to achieve more inclusive societies by making significant strides in narrowing gender disparities in all its dimensions. In a report released by the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2013, of the 135 countries examined nearly 96% have closed the gap in health outcomes between men and women and almost 93% of the gap in educational attainment. Moving past gender parity in education, we are now seeing initiatives promoting and ensuring women empowerment in employment and entrepreneurship, as well as access to social and political opportunities.



Despite visible momentum, women generally have been prioritized below other targets outlined under the MDGs, and progress still doesn’t equate equality. We have seen great headway, but it has largely been uneven and unequal across countries worldwide.

A recent report by the International Labor Organization (ILO) found that female workers will earn less than men for another 70 years if current trends continue. Furthermore, since 1995 we may have closed the gap on primary education, where girls are enrolled at equal rate with boys, however, the next frontier will be filling the classrooms with women in secondary school and higher education. Moreover, we may have seen a drop by 45% in maternal mortality, meaning nearly half of women today survive childbirth than before 1990, yet we continue to have 800 women die every day from preventable pregnancy related causes, and according to the UN, 99% of these deaths occur in developing countries.


From 1990 to 2010, 2 billion people gained access to clean drinking water. But despite the increase in access, it is women who still spend 16 million hours per day collecting water in twenty-five sub-Saharan countries—contrary to the 6 million hours men spend. Lastly, women still remain under-represented in power and key decision-making positions. The percentage of women in parliament has undoubtedly increased over the last twenty years, but this translates into 22% of women in parliament today. And when it comes to women’s participation in peace talk, from 1992 to 2011, only 9% of negotiators at the peace tables were women.


According to the conclusion made by the UNs World Survey on the Role of Women Development 2014 “All sustainable development policies and frameworks, at the global regional, national and local levels, must include an explicit commitment to gender equality and the realization of women’s and girls’ human rights and capabilities.” And we may begin to see much stronger push in prioritizing gender dipartites higher in the post-2015 development agenda, as the OECD highlights: “empowering women and fully leveraging their skills and leadership in the global economy are essential to maximizing a nation’s competitiveness.” The 59th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women held later this week will aid in establishing the future framework we will be seeing beyond 2015 and for the coming decades. Talks are already being led by UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka to reach gender parity before 2030. We can agree when reflecting back that current economic structures, social cultures, and political institutions are not what they were since our mother’s time–and for some, even our older sisters. However it is high-time the international community move past awareness and directly toward action to eliminate the remaining legacies of gender disparities and imbalances inherited a century prior. Moreover, we must finally recognize we are dealing not anymore with issues related to women’s right, but in 2015–it has evidently become clear we are fighting for universal human rights.

For more information:

European Year for Development


World Survey on the Role of Women in Development 2014

International Women’s Day: we have made great strides but there’s a long way to go

UN International Women’s day

Gender pay gap will not close for 70 years at current rate, says UN

UN Women

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