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International Women's Day is a rallying point for women's rights

Published: Friday, March 7 2014 8:40 p.m. MST

Women around the world – especially overseas – rally for women's rights and awareness of sex trafficking, abuse and other crimes against women.

Nasser Nasser, Associated Press

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On March 8, women around the world will rally for International Women's Day to mark progress toward women's rights and gender equality and strides yet to be made.

In the United States alone, 17 million women are living in poverty, and more than 600,000 women and girls are trafficked internationally each year. Seven out of 10 women in the world report they have experienced physical and sexual violence, according to Tiffanie Wen of the Daily Beast.

In the U.S., the day is honored quietly with conferences and speeches, but in other countries women take to the streets. In Poland, demonstrations are held in every major city, and in places where women are fighting relatively new battles for their rights, like Egypt, Tunisia and Iran, scores of women rally in public.

Celebration of the progress made for women’s rights, women’s empowerment and gender equality - See more at: www.unwomen.org. International Women's Day started as an American tradition in 1909 to mark the one-year anniversary of the New York garment workers' strike, and became a rallying point for women to protest war and fight for women's suffrage. The idea caught on in other countries, and the U.N. instituted March 8 as its official International Women's Day in 1975.

Empowering women and girls can help solve some of the greatest problems of the 21st century, said Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, United Nations under-secretary general and executive director of U.N. Women.

"Women spend the majority of their income on the well-being of their children and family. Raising women's labor force participation increases economic growth. By ending women's poverty, we will sustainably and significantly reduce extreme poverty worldwide," said Mlambo-Ngcuka in a U.N. statement.

If we act decisively, with the knowledge that empowering women and girls and supporting their full participation can help solve the greatest challenges of the 21st century, we will find lasting solutions to many of the problems we face in our world. Major challenges such as poverty, inequality, violence against women and girls, and insecurity will be addressed substantially.

Women spend the majority of their income on the well-being of their children and family. Raising women’s labour force participation increases economic growth. By ending women's poverty, we will sustainably and significantly reduce extreme poverty worldwide.

See more at: unwomen.org

Egyptian writer and feminist Dr. Nawal El Saadawi explains that International Women's Day is a time for women to acknowledge the high price that women paid during the Egyptian revolution. "We were killed, we were in the front everyday," she said to the Daily Beast. "And we are still fighting for our rights. It is very important for us that we continue our domestic fight as well as connect with the international one." Saadawi reiterated the importance of an exchange of ideas between women throughout the world.

Email: laneanderson@deseretnews.com

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