Putting women and women’s rights to equality on the global agenda is the moving force behind International Women’s Day. The idea of a day for women, celebrated all over the world, began at the beginning of this century in America and Europe. The focus was the movement for women’s rights and achieving universal suffrage for women. International Women’s Day really took hold between 1913 and 1917 when women held rallies either to protest the war or to express solidarity with their sisters. In December 1977 the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution proclaiming a United Nations Day for Women’s Rights and International Peace.
Since those early years, much progress has been made for women in developed and developing countries alike: in many countries, provisions guaranteeing the enjoyment of human rights without discrimination on the basis of sex have been included in constitutions; legal literacy and other measures have been introduced to alert women to their rights and to ensure their access to those rights; the world community has identified violence against women as a clear violation of women’s rights; incorporating gender perspectives into regular programmes and policies has become a priority at the United Nations and in many member states.
Although much remains to be done to achieve full equality, the voices of women are being heard. March 8th provides an opportunity to pay tribute to the achievements of women and to highlight the needs and concerns of women on national, regional and global agendas.