International Women’s Day: Again, time for action

Not reflection, Action. The statistics continue to speak for themselves and underline the fact that there remains everything to be done

Below, see the History of International Women’s Day, an international story of triumph of human rights through friendship, and why March 8th became the date on which this Day is celebrated.

But first, let us once again visit the statistics for an objective look at to what extent women and girls have received parity status with men and boys in today’s society, in the year 2024 (CE).

Again, the horrific and shameful statistics

For a start, women are more likely to die in car crashes because safety standards are geared for males;

Statista, the global data and business intelligence platform, estimates the number of years necessary until gender parity is achieved, by region. The region which will need the least number of years for full gender parity to exist is Latin America and the Caribbean (53 years), followed by Europe (67); third comes North America (95) followed by Sub-Saharan Africa (102). We need not go further. Among the top four regions of eight, the time period ranges from over half a century to more than a century;

Adolescent girls are far more likely than boys to suffer from some form of sexual violence and are more likely to become HIV positive; one third of women across all walks of life and all regions continue to be victims of some form of violence; 

Growing up, girls spend more time in agriculture and collecting firewood and water than boys, making them less likely to receive an adequate education; tens of thousands of girls are forced into arranged marriages every year and are therefore more likely to drop out of school altogether; many families invest what scant resources they have in the education of boys, not girls;

The ratio of girls to boys not frequenting any education program at all is two to one (UNICEF);

200 million women and girls have been subjected to Female Genital Mutilation and a further four million are subjected to this barbaric practice each and every year.

The current military, climate and economic disasters have pushed 75 million more people into poverty since 2020, meaning that by 2030, there will be some 342 million women and girls living below the poverty line.

Because of these crises, UN Women estimates that 75 per cent of countries will reduce public spending in 2025, and adds that austerity programes affect women and girls far more than men and boys as public services and social protection schemes are under-funded.

And so the story goes on and on and on every year.

This year UN Women’s theme for International Women’s Day is Invest in Women; Accelerate Progress. For this UN Institution, the only way to secure prosperity is by ensuring full equal rights for women and girls in all areas. Lack of financing is a major impediment to achieving goals and UN Women assesses that 360 billion dollars is lacking in investment in gender-related projects.

History of International Women's Day

International Women's Day started in the United States of America, launched by a declaration of the Socialist Party of America on February 28th, 1909 using as a basis the need to guarantee women's rights in an increasingly industrialized society and was taken up by the international community at the first International Women's Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, in 1910. The horrific and inhumane conditions at the New York Triangle Shirtwaist factory which caused the deaths of 140 garment workers (mostly women) in 1911 provided an added impetus at a time when women were pressing for the right to vote and demonstrations in Russia prior to the 1917 Revolution were the first signs of women's emancipation in this country, culminating in the declaration by Lenin of a Women's Day on March 8th; in 1965 it was declared a public holiday by the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet.

Why March 8th?

Women had been demonstrating for their rights since pre-Classical times (e.g. the sexual strike called by Lysistrata in Ancient Greece, the March on Versailles by Parisian woman calling for "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity" in the 1790s). Copenhagen had chosen 19th March for the celebration of an International Women's Day but in 1913, Russian women chose the last Sunday in February (following the Declaration by the Socialist Party of America in 1909) as the date for their International Women's Day to call for peace on the eve of the First World War. As Springtime and local customs to give the first flowers to women combined, the end of Febuary/beginning of March began to be the time of year observed by the feminist movements, until in 1917, Russian women called a strike on the last Sunday of February to protest against the War (23d February) in the Julian Calendar; 8th March in the Gregorian.

Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey can be reached at [email protected]



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Author`s name Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey