March 8th marked International Women’s Day; a global celebration of the lives of women and girls, and a time to refocus the lens on the road to end violence against them. While we (the global community) still have a long way to go, March 8th showed us that we have also come a long way. All over the world men and women united to speak out against the atrocities that are committed against women and girls everyday. Activists and survivors took to the Internet via social media and the news as well as to the streets to make their voices heard, and to ensure that the world knew they could not be silenced and would not back down. This blog looks at events in India, the EU and Cote D’Ivoire as examples of events held to celebrate.
By 9:15am Eastern time, the International Women’s Day, Womankind Worldwide’s virtual march had spanned 5,000 miles and “the purple stripe for gender justice had reached India.” All over the world women were united in their solidarity and in their similar plights, in their frustration and in their passion to bring about better lives for themselves and for future generations of women and girls. In the EU, parliamentarians continued to debate the pay gap, and how best to close it. In an almost even three-way split three outcomes were suggested: “by facilitating access to jobs for all (27 per cent), imposing penalties on firms (26 per cent), or enforcing transparent pay scales (24 per cent), the European Parliament said in a media statement.” Mikael Gustafasson, the European Parliament’s women’s rights committee chairperson, was cited as saying, “Virginia Woolf spoke out about the importance for women to have a room of one’s own. It is less well known that she also spoke out about the need for women to have money of their own. It was true then – and it is true today. Focusing on economic equality is even more important at a time of crisis”, showing that Gustafasson and the European Parliament are putting women’s right to equal on the top of their agenda.
In Cote D’Ivoire the topic of the day was also economic advancement as women and officials gathered for an Innovative Agricultural Empowerment Index. Here the focus was on ownership of land, as women farmers account for 40% of the workforce but own only 1% of the land. International Women’s Day gave these women a platform to voice their cause. That is what the day means to many women; it gives them an opportunity to stand united for their cause, to celebrate their accomplishments and know that though there is still much more to accomplish they are united.