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The road has been rocky, and the journey hard, but the position of all women today has come far from what it used to be. From women’s suffrage in 1917 to the global movement that women’s rights is now, we have made progress and, hopefully, will continue to do so each and every day.
The 8th of March is International Women’s Day and it is a day of celebration and remembrance. This remarkable day began as “National Women’s Day” organised by the Socialist Party of America at the suggestion of Theresa Malkiel in 1909.
That’s 109 years ago. A short history, compared to many other holidays, but no less momentous. Here are 5 victories and 5 ongoing battles in the struggle for women’s rights.
2017 – A Year of Victories
Just last year, there were a slew of new victories from all over the world:
- January 2017, thousands of people participated in a Women’s March in a world-shaking moment. All of them mobilized to raise their voices on many important issues including anti-discrimination, LGBTQI rights, reproductive rights, religious freedoms, refugee rights, and more. Many rallied to #BuildMovementsNotWalls in response to the US government’s new women’s rights policies.
- July 2017, Tunisia’s Parliament repealed an archaic law that allowed men accused of rape to be exonerated and escape punishment if they married the individual they raped, as part of a broad new law outlawing violence against women.
- August 2017, Lebanon’s Parliament repealed that same law. This major legal win came just weeks after Jordan’s own victory. Global Fund for Women’s grantee partner Abaad, a women’s rights group with deep roots in Lebanon, hung bloodied wedding dresses in Beirut’s main promenade and put up billboards around the capital with a caption that read, in Arabic, “A white dress doesn’t cover up rape.”
- Yet another momentous victory in August 2017 occured in Chile, with Chile’s Constitutional Tribunal voting to ease the country’s total ban on abortion, passing legislation that legalizes abortion under three cases.
- September 2017 saw Mexico struck with the strongest earthquake in nearly a century, devastating both Oaxaca and Chiapas. Semillas, Mexico’s women’s fund, developed a reconstruction and rebuilding campaign to address immediate and long-term needs, spearhead recovery, and rebuild Mexico in a more sustainable way.
There were many more victories in the battle of equal rights, however, the fight isn’t over.
2018 and Beyond – Ongoing Battles
This year, the UN has established some key targets of the 2030 Agenda:
- By 2030, ensure that all girls and boys complete free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education leading to relevant and Goal-4 effective learning outcomes.
- By 2030, ensure that all girls and boys have access to quality early childhood development, care and preprimary education so that they are ready for primary education.
- End all forms of discrimination against all women and girls everywhere.
- Eliminate all forms of violence against all women and girls in the public and private spheres, including trafficking and sexual and other types of exploitation.
- Eliminate all harmful practices, such as child, early and forced marriage and female genital mutilation.
Of particular note, is the discrimination that is still being practised in the workplace.
In the Global Gender Gap Report of 2016, it was reported that across the Index, there are only
- 5 countries that have closed 80% of the gap or more.
- 64 countries that have closed between 70% and 80% of their gender gap.
- 65 countries have closed between 60% and 70%
- 10 countries have closed between 50% and 60%.
Future projections show that women will have to wait at least 10 more years before receiving equal pay in some industries at the rate we’re going. So let us commemorate International Women’s Day with celebrations of our victories, but continue to battle the next day and the days after.
Credits: globalfundforwomen.org, internationalwomensday, un.org, and weforum.org
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