During his recent radio broadcast “Mann Ki Baat”, Prime Minister Narendra Modi touched upon the issues of daily safety, women empowerment and “technology for welfare”; he emphasized that his dream of “New India” was the one where women were strong and empowered and equally contributed to the country’s development.
Highlighting this aspect would be a fitting start to commemorate International Women’s Day (IWD) on March 8.
Tracing the history of this day, the first international Women’s Day was celebrated in the 1908. According to the narrative, a group of 15,000 women marched on the streets of New York, demanding their rights. Every year, to mark this occasion, everyone joins in to support, raise, inspire and motivate women across work areas. The aim is to focus on various themes such as innovation, the portrayal of women in the media, or the importance of education and career opportunities. Many events mark the celebration on this day – like street marches, debates, discussions and a host of other programmes.
What is special is that International Women’s Day celebrates the social, cultural, economic and political achievements of women across the globe. It’s significant that the focus is on unity, equality and advocacy, especially in an environment where the differences between genders is as great as ever, and stories of injustice keep surfacing to grab our attention.
Over 20 countries, specially in Asia, it means a day off work for all. The day was first officially acknowledged way back in 1911, and became a milestone holiday in the Soviet Union from 1917 (from 1965 onwards it meant a day off). The United Nations, since 1977, has brought it into the spotlight, for both women’s rights and world peace.
Rural and urban activists transforming women’s lives
The theme for International Women’s Day is – “Time is Now: Rural and urban activists transforming women’s lives”.
This year, International Women’s Day follows unprecedented global movement for women’s rights, equality and justice. There has been a strong movement for change detected after sexual harassment, violence and discrimination against women has trended in headlines and public discourse.
There is an international trend of people moving towards a future that is more equal. We had the powerful #MeToo campaign in the US, and may other hashtags began to trend like #Timesup #NeverAgain . It caught up in other countries too, protesting against sexual harassment and violence, such as #YoTambien in Mexico, Spain, South America and beyond, #QuellaVoltaChe in Italy, #BalanceTonPorc in France and #Ana_kaman in the Arab States; “Ni Una Menos” (‘not one less’), a campaign against femicide that originated in Argentina; and many others, on issues such as equal pay to women’s representation in politics.
International Women’s Day 2018 is an opportunity to transform this momentum into action, to empower women in rural and urban areas, and celebrate women’s rights so that their full potential can be realised.
Echoing the priority theme of the upcoming 62nd session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women, International Women’s Day will also draw attention to the rights and activism of rural women, who make up over a quarter of the world population and majority of the 43 per cent of women in the global agricultural labour force.
IWD logo power
The official logo of International Women’s Day is the symbol of Venus. The symbol is decorated in purple colour and it has pictures of different women in the background from various walks of life. The colour purple was chosen, because it symbolises dignity and justice, which are the two important goals.
Today, it is quite evident how because of deep-seated gender inequalities and discrimination, rural women fare worse than rural men or urban women. They lack infrastructure and services, decent work and social protection, and are left more vulnerable to the effects of climate change.
Rural women and their organizations represent an enormous potential, and they are on the move to claim their rights and improve their livelihoods and wellbeing. They are using innovative agricultural methods, setting up successful businesses and even acquiring new skills. So, the theme by highlighting this aspect, will work wonders to take this movement ahead.
So, on March 8, join the movement – celebrate and take a pledge to transform women’s lives.