Equality for women is progress for all!

And that is the UN theme for women’s day (8th March). Gender equality, empowerment of women (yes, I know that that phrase has been done to death!), women’s full enjoyment of human rights and eradication of poverty are deemed essential for economic and social development.

I thought I should get my two bit in before the advertisers break havoc and bombard us with special ‘women’s days offers’ reducing the day to one of shopping and spending. Yes, I believe that in some countries it has become that, a day like Valentine Day or Mother’s Day where you gift women or go for ‘all women’ parties and celebrations, it has lost the political flavor with which it was started, but in many regions it still symbolizes the struggles of women worldwide, with a view to build a hopeful future.

It is not so much that I am against having a good time but it somehow disturbs me that in a country where gender discrimination is so rampant we should trivialize this day!  And when I talk of discrimination I am not talking of heinous crimes like rape and assault – because to my mind that is unlawful behavior that violates all basic human principles.  But what I mean is what most women face on an every day basis – in cities, in towns, in villages, on the street, in their homes, in every walk of life.  It reflects in how women perceive themselves, their unwillingness to stand up for their rights, the fearful and compromising manner in which they seem to lead their lives.  That needs to change, and a good beginning might be to use this day to promise ourselves to take charge of our own lives and use some part (before we head out for that shopping trip) to think what we can do.

Women’s day celebrations are almost a century old this year and it has been a long road.  From promoting equal rights including suffrage for women the struggle has been tremendous.  It is a result of all the work that women groups put in worldwide that in India women have had a right to vote ever since independence.  Our freedom fighters were an evolved and forward thinking group and we have got this right without having had to fight for it as have women had to in so many countries world over.  Is it because we got the right to vote so easily that we value it less and treat casually?  But the right to vote is treated casually by all – men and women – which is the main reason that the country finds itself at crossroads in so many ways.

Women have been powerful agents of change in many parts of the world, not just for themselves but for the economy and for ensuring social development.  The most power instance is of the Women’s Day ‘Bread and Peace’ rally in Russia in 1917 which is said to have initiated the February Revolution where women demanded for the end of World War I and an end to food shortages.

I found it interesting what the UN “Themes’ have been over the years – in India some of these could be more relevant than the theme for 2014 – I like the 2011 one – Equal Access to Education, Training and Science and Technology: Pathway to Decent Work for Women – for this has to be the building block for anything else that we may want.

 

Year          UN Theme

2000          Women Uniting For Peace

2001          Women and Peace: Women Managing Conflicts

2002          Afghan Women Today: Realities and Opportunities

2003          Gender Equality and the Millennium Development   Goals

2004          Women and HIV/AIDS

2005         Gender Equality Beyond 2005; Building a More Secure Future

2006           Women in Decision Making

2007          Ending Impunity for Violence Against Women and Girls

2008          Investing in Women and Girls

2009          Women and Men United to End Violence Against  Women and Girls

2010          Equal Right, Equal Opportunities: Progress for All

2011           Equal Access to Education, Training, and Science and Technology: Pathway to Decent Work for Women

2012           Empower Rural Women, End Poverty and Hunger

2013           A Promise is a Promise: Time for Action to End Violence Against Women

2014            Equality for Women is Progress for All

 

 

“Countries with more gender equality have better economic growth. Companies with more women leaders perform better. Peace agreements that include women are more durable. Parliaments with more women enact more legislation on key social issues such as health, education, anti-discrimination and child support. The evidence is clear: equality for women means progress for all.”

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

 

 

 

 

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