International Women’s Day (IWD) is celebrated every year on March 8 to salute women’s achievements throughout history and across the world. It is also known as the United Nations (UN) Day for Women’s Rights and International Peace.
International Women’s Day is not about affirming the authority of one gender over the other. The UN instituted International Women’s Day to honor the achievements and contributions of women in every sphere of life – be it political or global or domestic. The day is celebrated to salute the spirit of womanhood. The celebration varies across different regions. But generally it is a way to give respect to women and appreciate them for their achievements.“Women are the largest untapped reservoir of talent in the world.”- Hillary Clinton Click To Tweet
Women’s Day every year has a theme. The 2017 theme for International Women’s Day, 8 March is “Women in the Changing World of Work: Planet 50-50 by 2030”. The world of work is changing, with significant implications for women. On one hand, technological advances and globalization bring unprecedented opportunities for those who can access them. On the other hand, there is growing informality of labour, income inequality and humanitarian crises.
Against this backdrop, only 50 per cent of working age women are represented in the labour force globally, compared to 76 per cent of men. What’s more, an overwhelming majority of women are in the informal economy, subsidizing care and domestic work, and concentrated in lower-paid, lower-skill occupations with little or no social protection. Achieving gender equality in the world of work is imperative for sustainable development.
2017 Theme: Women in the Changing World of Work
International Women’s Day 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.
The idea of this theme is to consider how to accelerate the 2030 Agenda, building momentum for the effective implementation of the new Sustainable Development Goals, especially goal number 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls; and number 4: Ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning. The theme will also focus on new commitments under UN Women’s Step It Up initiative, and other existing commitments on gender equality, women’s empowerment and women’s human rights.
Key targets of the 2030 Agenda stated by UN
- 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.
Why is International Women’s Day celebrated?
In the year 1910, a meeting of the Socialist Second International was held at Copenhagen. It was then, with the support of American socialists and German Socialist Luise Zietz, decided to celebrate International Women’s Day every year. Though no date was finalized in the meeting, it was decided to promote equal rights for women.
The International Women’s Day was celebrated for the first time on 19th March1911 by thousands of people in Germany, Switzerland, Denmark and Austria. An array of programmes like demonstrations, women parade was held. The demand to abolish sex discrimination was brought to front. In America and Russia, the day was celebrated as a National Women’s Day on the last Sunday of the February annually.
In the year 1914 International Women’s Day was held on 8th March. Since then it is celebrated every year on this day. The women in Germany asked for the voting rights. In 1917 women of Saint Petersburg demanded the “Bread and Peace”, end of the World War I as well as Russian food shortage. Increasingly, the day came to be celebrated in many communist and socialist countries.
6 Things We Need To Change To Make Workplaces Truly Gender-Equal
A growing concern in the Indian economy is that women’s participation in the workforce has seen a significant decline in the last decade. The issue has cleaved its way into many conversations among policy makers, and given the statistics, there’s no doubt that coming up with solutions is top priority.
To take the conversation forward, the International Labour Organisation (ILO), in collaboration with FESDIG (Feminist Economist Saturday Discussion Group), hosted an event on 1 March 2017, ‘Women at Work in Asia: Lessons for India’s Low Female Labour Force Participation’. Held to lead up to International Women’s Day 2017 (8 March), the event featured insightful presentations and panel discussions. Leading academics, policy makers and economic experts, including M. Sathiyavathy, Secretary of the Ministry of Labour and Employment, Amitabh Kant, CEO of NITI Aayog, and Dr Sher Verick, Deputy Director of the ILO Decent Work Team for South Asia and Country Office for India, among others, were present.
Here is what needs to be changed to increase women’s participation in the workforce in India:
Gender Equality In Society, If We Want Equality At Work
A recurring argument among various speakers was that achieving gender parity in India’s labour force was a second step. First and foremost, there is a need to push for equal treatment of men and women in the society, beginning at home.
Women Want To Work, But Don’t Have Opportunities
There’s a pressing need for creating more job opportunities that women can access. Many women across the country remain unemployed simply because they don’t have access to suitable work.
Fix The Glaring Wage Gap!
The drop in women’s workforce participation is also largely because of the fact that many salaried women still face gender discrimination at the workplace, which causes quick loss of interest in the job itself and pushes them to quit.
Household Work Is Not Considered Real ‘Work’
In a lot of households, given the gender disparity, women are not considered likely candidates for “fast-paced” jobs, where they are required to work longer hours. Because of this, many women are not considered for higher roles and career growth stagnates.
Better Infrastructure Can Ensure More Women Have Easy Access To Workplaces
One observation during the discussion was that women in India prefer working at home (which largely remains unrecognised work), because of lack of supportive, safe infrastructure.
Need For Proper Measurement Of Women’s Work
The most important lesson to take away from the event was perhaps that documentation and reportage around women’s participation in the workforce is not comprehensive.
20 Inspirational quotes for International Women’s Day
- “Women have always been the strong ones of the world. The men are always seeking from women a little pillow to put their heads down on. They are always longing for the mother who held them as infants.” – Coco Chanel
- “Women are clear-headed, they are more creative and for this reason, sometimes, also more fragile.” – Emma Bonino
- “Women are the largest untapped reservoir of talent in the world.”- Hillary Clinton
- “Success is only meaningful and enjoyable if it feels like your own.” – Michelle Obama
- “Remember always that you not only have the right to be an individual, you have an obligation to be one.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
- “You cannot shake hands with a clenched fist.” – Indira Gandhi
- “When it comes to human dignity, we cannot make compromises.” – Angela Merkel
- “Women are the real architects of society” – Harriet Beacher Stowe
- “Of course I am not worried about intimidating men. The type of man who will be intimidated by me is exactly the type of man I have no interest in.” – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
- “By and large, mothers and housewives are the only workers who do not have regular time off. They are the great vacation-less class.” – Anne Morrow Lindbergh
- “One is not born, but rather becomes, a woman.” – Simone de Beauvoir.
- “If you want something said, ask a man; if you want something done, ask a woman.” – Margaret Thatcher
- “Honor your daughters. They are honorable.” – Malala Yousafzai
- “The history of all times, and of today especially, teaches that… women will be forgotten if they forget to think about themselves.” – Louise Otto
- “The fastest way to change society is to mobilise the women of the world.” – Charles Malik
- “A woman with a voice is by definition a strong woman. But the search to find that voice can be remarkably difficult.” – Melinda Gates
- “A woman’s guess is much more accurate than a man’s certainty.” – Rudyard Kipling
- “Extremists have shown what frightens them most: a girl with a book.” — Malala Yousafzai
- “The strength of a woman is not measured by the impact that all her hardships in life have had on her; but the strength of a woman is measured by the extent of her refusal to allow those hardships to dictate her and who she becomes.” ― JoyBell C
- “A woman is the full circle. Within her is the power to create, nurture and transform.”- Diane Mariechild
Proud to be a woman!