International Women's Day (IWD) is a time to reflect on progress made, to call for change and to celebrate acts of courage and determination by ordinary women who have played an extraordinary role in the history of their countries and communities.
IWD is celebrated in many countries around the world. It is a day when women are recognized for their achievements without regard to divisions, whether national, ethnic, linguistic, cultural, economic or political. International Women's Day first emerged from the activities of labour movements at the turn of the twentieth century in North America and across Europe and this day is being observed on 8th March. This year focuses is on "Women in the Changing World of Work: Planet 50-50 by 2030".
Antonio Guterres, United Nations Secretary-General on his messages said that "gender equality is central to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the global plan agreed by leaders of all countries to meet the challenges we face. Sustainable Development Goal 5 calls specifically for gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls, and this is central to the achievement of all the 17 SDGs."
"I am committed to increasing women's participation in our peace and security work. Women negotiators increase the chances of sustainable peace, and women peace-keepers decrease the chances of sexual exploitation and abuse," he added.
"On International Women's Day, let us all pledge to do everything we can to overcome entrenched prejudice, support engagement and activism, and promote gender equality and women's empowerment", he stated in his message.
Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO, on the occasion of IWD said that "Inequality between men and women penalizes societies at all levels of development. The violence, injustice and stereotypes suffered by too many women in their personal or professional lives undermine society as a whole, and deprive of it considerable potential for creativity, strength and confidence in the future."
"As the United Nations has adopted the ambitious 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the full empowerment of girls and women is one of humanity's most powerful levers for development. It is a matter of principle, and a matter of common sense: everybody has a stake in promoting equality between men and women, at all levels of society: in farmland and on the benches of parliamentary assemblies, in company boardrooms and in the streets of our cities", she added.
Message by UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka on International Women's Day states that "across the world, too many women and girls spend too many hours on household responsibilities - typically more than double the time spent by men and boys. They look after younger siblings, older family members, deal with illness in the family and manage the house.
In many cases this unequal division of labour is at the expense of women's and girls' learning, of paid work, sports, or engagement in civic or community leadership. This shapes the norms of relative disadvantage and advantage, of where women and men are positioned in the economy, of what they are skilled to do and where they will work."
Leading up to IWD, the Ministry of Women and Child Development, Government of India has initiated a social media campaign - #WeAreEqual - targeted at raising awareness about gender discrimination. The campaign will culminate into the celebration of International Women's Day marked by the prestigious Nari Shakti Award ceremony, in which the President will honour individuals and institutions for their exemplary contribution to women's empowerment.
The campaign takes a positive approach, engaging both men and women across the cross-section of the society and reflects their personal effort at creating a more equal society. T
he Ministry's Facebook and Twitter handles have received an overwhelming number of posts by social media users with the hashtag #WeAreEqual, reaching 2.6 crore persons since its inception last month. The posts show everyday examples of how men and women of India are sharing more responsibilities and standing up for equal rights and opportunities.
Each and every one us must be bold and take action to make things into reality. Together we may achieve our goals when men and women work together. There must be equal opportunity and spaces for all including women. We can be part of various campaigns and make sure that we become part of social change.
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