NEW YORK, March 8 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) -
C elebrations and protests on Wednesday to mark International
Women's Day highlighted both progress and challenges in every
part of the world, amid growing concern that women's rights are
being rolled back.
The origin of the global event dates to 1908 when women
protested in various countries against working conditions,
discrimination and being unable to vote or hold public office.
The 1945 United Nations charter was the first global
agreement to affirm the principle of equality between women and
men, and in 1975 the U.N. declared March 8 as International
But while the day is meant to celebrate social, economic,
cultural and political achievements of women, the 2017 event
comes just weeks after millions of women marched around the
world amid fears that progress is being eroded.
Against this backdrop, the Thomson Reuters Foundation asked
various experts and campaigners what one thing would make the
world better for women:
PHUMZILE MLAMBO-NGCUKA - Executive Director, UN Women
- "I would have to say the issue of challenging the stereotypes
and the norms that we live with everyday in our families, in our
work, in our schools that teach women differently. When it comes
to gender inequality, women are still discriminated against and
sexism is still well and alive with impunity. The threshold of
tolerance for such things is just too high in society,
especially by the leaders who do not demonstrate zero tolerance
for gender inequality."
CHELSEA CLINTON - Vice chair, Clinton Foundation
- "We know what gets measured gets managed. Tackling gender data
gaps is crucial for ensuring every girl has every opportunity to
lead a safe, healthy life full of opportunity. That's good for
girls and boys too – we know what when girls are empowered,
societies thrive. Through the Clinton Foundation's Full
Participation Report, we learned that while girls and women have
made significant strides, gaps in progress persist, in every
country. We need to act on data and information that we know is
accurate to know where to channel our energies and investments
to close the gaps that exist as quickly as possible, for every
girl everywhere and for our shared future."
JAYNA ZWEIMAN - Co-Founder, Pussyhat Project
- "Respect for women's bodies and respect for women as not
just bodies. Using women's health, safety and independence as
tools for political power must stop. Women must make their own
decisions, and that demands systemic freedom, trust and
opportunity. Only then will women be able to participate fully
and loudly as valued equals, regardless of age, race, sexual
orientation, gender expression, religion, class, immigration
status and disability."
ROBIN MORGAN - author, former editor-in-chief of Ms. Magazine
and founder of Sisterhood is Global Institute
- "Issues are so interconnected it's difficult to pick one
panacea. I'm tempted to choose full reproductive rights. But
that would come about organically with the following, which I
choose: The one thing that would make the world better for women
(and men, children, indeed all life on the planet), is women
holding full political leadership power in every country."
ADA COLAU - First female mayor of Barcelona, social activist
- "A world without machismo. We have to reduce macho violence
because in reality, it is the most serious structural violence
we have, murdering women month after month... The big challenge
is to make this a policy priority for states, and put in place
programs - not just to support the victims but also to promote
prevention and education, to change this systemic macho violence
which has killed thousands of women around the world."
MARIANA KATZAROVA - Founder of Reach All Women in WAR
- "Including women's voices in peace talks is critical. Women
are over half of the global population – 80 percent of survivors
of armed conflict are women but they rarely get the chance to
have a seat at the table and contribute to the peace process.
Those who began the conflict in the first place are later in
charge of making and building peace, with the majority of the
population and survivors being excluded from the peace process.
This is often the reason why peace is not achieved in any of the
current armed conflicts around the world."
(Additional reporting by Belinda Goldsmith and Megan Rowling.
Editing by Ros Russell.; Please credit the Thomson Reuters
Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers
humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, property rights,
climate change and resilience. Visit news.trust.org)