Happy International Women’s Day!

The United Nations has recognized a number of “International Days” to explore topics and issues that are important to humanity and the history of the world. Along with the United Nations, UNESCO has partnered with them to acknowledge “World Days.” Combined, a list has been compiled of globally proclaimed days to touch on the history of the world and humankind.

Click here to read more on the history of International Days and a full list.

With that said, I’ve decided to write a few pieces about these days and post them accordingly. I’ve selected days that are close to my heart and that I have (somewhat) of an understanding about. The reason for me not writing about each and every day listed, is because I don’t know the knowledge or background behind certain topics and issues. I want to stay true to myself and write about what I know and what is important to me. In all actuality, I read every single page that the UN offered on these International Days and am in support of all of them. I just don’t have the background to give enough of my opinion.

So, *disclaimer* over. Let’s begin!

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Photo courtesy of UNWomen

8 March 2016 is “International Women’s Day.” According to the United Nations website, this day is to celebrate and reflect on the progress made and recognize the problems that still face women today all over the world. There have been many initiatives taken to “close the gap” and decrease the inequality between men and women, boys and girls. Over the years we have seen more and more people step up to support women and minorities, with much progress seen, but not enough. The significance of this day holds a special place in my heart because of the problems that are being combated.

International Women’s Day was first established as early as 1908, during the Women’s Suffrage Movement, demanding a right to vote and advocating about discrimination. Demonstrations of women’s suffrage was happening all over the world, leading to revolutions and the eventual declaration of International Women’s Day by the United Nations in 1975 [1].

Since then, it has been celebrated and embraced all over the world to commemorate the advances our world has had in the development of women’s rights, but also to still shed light on the discrimination and violence against women in the world today. The United Nations has taken enormous steps to encourage support and take action in the development of basic human rights all over the world. In accordance with International Women’s Day, they have established a basis for Nations to come together to create the world we live in a much better place.  

In September 2000, the General Assembly proposed and established a statement at the Millennium Summit called the Millennium Declaration (or Project). Through this adopted agreement they made a commitment to reduce poverty, and aid in other global human rights issues by the end of 2015.

Click here to see the full list of the Millennium Development Goals.

By the end of 2015, some of these goals were not met and so the UN decided on developing a plan that builds upon the MDGs: The 2030 Agenda of Sustainable Development. Within this, there are 17 Sustainable Development Goals, to continue to help eradicate poverty, inequality and violence against women by 2030.

The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day extends the Agenda of Sustainable Development and focuses on gender equality and women’s rights. The United Nations has established this year’s theme as “Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step It Up for Gender Equality.” While the trending theme according to the International Women’s Day website is “Pledge for Parity,” these two themes go hand in hand: creating an equal world and closing the gap between the sexes.

Women are affected by all 17 of the proposed SDGs. However, because it is International Women’s Day, I will be focusing primarily on Goal Number 5: Achieve Gender Equality and Empower All Women and Girls.

Click here to see a full list of the SDGs, click here .

It is important to understand what sustainable development is and how it aids in helping women throughout the world. According to the UN, sustainable development meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of the future to meet needs of their own. It calls for building a sustainable life for all persons, through economic growth, social inclusion and environmental protection [2]. The growth and development of the protection of the earth and human life is an important factor to consider in reading through the SDGs. Each person on the planet is affected by what happens globally, whether they know it or not. Many times, we become blinded to the outside world and are so hard focused on what is happening among our own Nation. While I agree Nationality is extremely important, I would argue that foreign affairs affect our worldview about our own country. Humankind is a precious gift and this proposed agenda has set out to preserve and refine it.

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Photo courtesy of UNWomen

The 5th goal of the Sustainable Development Agenda is to Achieve Gender Equality and Empower All Women and Girls [3].  While female empowerment doesn’t seem to be much of an issue in recent events, it is still something that many countries are behind on. There is still gender discrimination; in the political sector, social, and economic. Women, like every other individual on this earth, deserve basic human rights. It begins with believing and empowering. Believing that women can and will make a difference. Empowering young girls to grow up knowing that they are no less than, because of their gender. All areas of life, included in the 17 SDG’s, relate to gender equality. Violence against women is one of the biggest issues affecting every country [4]. Whether it be domestic or sexual abuse, or more controversial like Female Genital Mutilation, women are being prosecuted all over the world. Globally, 35% of women have experienced physical/sexual abuse in their lifetime [5]. Because of this epidemic, the focus on empowering women and bettering gender equality has risen to the United Nations attention.

Wouldn’t it be great to envision a world free of corruption, violence, discrimination and poverty? Wouldn’t it be even greater to see that vision come true? About 20 years ago, over 180 countries adopted the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. This Declaration calls on all governments of the world to #StepItUp for gender equality and close the gap between the sexes [6].

Today is International Women’s Day, a day to celebrate women empowerment and all the trials and tribulations women have faced throughout history. But, it doesn’t stop there. Violence, poverty, sustainability,and social injustices are just a few of the initiatives planned in the 2030 Agenda.

So, what can you do? Great question!

1- Educate yourself! Read about what goes on in the world and know the impact that you could have on someone’s life. To make it easy for you, I’ve provided some links to click through and research the issue (it’s well worth it).

2- Get involved! Whether that be through social media, donations, volunteering, or taking the #PledgeForParity. It’s easy to show your support for women and humankind through the 2030 Agenda. You can even share this post in support of educating others about this initiative.

3- Most importantly, support your peers. Don’t discriminate, stand up for others and be an encourager. We are all on this earth for a reason and while some of us may not know what that is yet, we might as well take steps in finding out and making the world a better place.

Sources

http://www.unwomen.org/en/news/in-focus/women-and-the-sdgs/sdg-5-gender-equality 

http://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/gender-equality/

http://www.unwomen.org/en/news/in-focus/mdg-momentum#MDG1

http://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/development-agenda/

http://beijing20.unwomen.org/en/step-it-up/how-to

Draft outcome of the UN Summit for post 2015 agenda – http://www.un.org/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=A/69/L.85&Lang=E

Beijing Declaration – http://www.un.org/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=E/CN.6/2015/3&referer=/english/&Lang=E

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