International Women’s Day: The significance of Social, Political and Economic Empowerment

Today is the celebration of International Women’s Day (IWD); a day that is marked around the globe in over 40 countries and recognises women’s achievements across the board – politically, economically and socially. At the same time, IWD calls for gender equality all over the world. Statistics still illustrate that women’s education and health, as well as violence towards women is still worse than that of men. In business and politics globally, women are underrepresented and paid less. 

Beginning in the 1900s and recognised every year on March 8, today is IWD’s 105th anniversary with this years theme being Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step It Up for Gender Equality”. It aims to promote and accelerate the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals that were established at the 2015 UN summit. Central to the 2030 goals were empowering women and girls, as well as focusing on reducing hunger, disease and poverty. And today, IWD pushes for this to be sped up.

According to UN Women, IWD will equally focus on new commitments under the UN Women’s ‘Step It Up’ initiative, and other existing commitments on gender equality, women’s empowerment and women’s human rights.

The UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, in his message for International Women’s Day 2016, said: “We have shattered so many glass ceilings we created a carpet of shards. Now we are sweeping away the assumptions and bias of the past so women can advance across new frontiers.”

The UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka in her message for IWD 2016 said: “Each one of us is needed—in our countries, communities, organizations, governments and in the United Nations—to ensure decisive, visible and measurable actions are taken under the banner: Planet 50-50: Step It Up for Gender Equality.”

In 2014 the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development released a policy report entitled Trade, Gender and the post-2015 Development Agenda. It focuses on, and analyses the Development Goals by looking at the disjunction between trade and gender. It states: “Gender and trade mutually affect each other. Trade policies have a different impact on men and women, and in turn gender-based inequalities impact on trade policy outcomes and trade performance.”

“Women and men tend to work in different sectors, with women clustered in fewer sectors and men more evenly distributed across occupations and productive activities. Because the gender roles in the households and labour markets are rather rigid, women are less likely to enter expanding non-traditional “female” sectors because of limited access to productive resources and training, and time constraints.”

Economically empowering women is fundamental to global development. FFTD is encouraged by the support IWD is receiving this year, with tributes, speeches and marches happening globally today. Today is about celebrating, recognising and discussing womens’ roles in international development, it cannot be overlooked.



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