Since 1975, March 8 has been the official date that celebrates the achievements of women, striving to bring awareness to the inequalities and injustices that being a woman still encompasses today, and what still needs to be done in order to change this reality.
However, it was in 1857, on March 8, that a group of women from the textile industry organized a march to demand better working conditions and the same working hours as men, in New York.
And why does this day still make sense today?
1. Because in the U.S., women earn half the income of men; and worldwide, women only make 77 cents for every dollar earned by a man. As a result, there’s a lifetime of income inequality between men and women and more women are retiring into poverty.
2. Because at this rate of evolution women will still have to wait another 118 years for equal pay.
3. Because in the U.S., only 23.7% of women occupy a seat in the Senate.
4. Because only 11% of the richest people in the world are women.
5. Because men are still applauded for "helping" with housework and child-rearing, but no one applauds women for the same work.
6. Because women are judged by the clothes they wear, because they are too young or too old, because they are too thin or too fat.
7. Because women are disadvantaged in their careers because they have children.
8. Because 1 in 5 women are raped.
9. Because sexual harassment is part of every woman's life and the reports of domestic and dating violence have been increasing every year.
10. 91% of the victims of rape and sexual assault are female.
11. Because women have only had the right to vote for 100 years now.
12. Because we still live in an age where survivors of violence end up receiving questions like, what they were wearing, what they were drinking, where they were going...
13. Because more than 1 in 3 women experienced physical or sexual violence at some point in their lives.
14. Because by 2015, 1 in 4 women between the ages of 20 and 24 had been a child bride.
15. Because in several countries many girls drop out of school, not because they are not smart or do not want to study, but because they do not have access to intimate hygiene products.
16. Because in Pakistan a large percentage of girls do not go to school because a woman is not allowed to use public transportation without male supervision.
17. Because currently, about 120 million women and girls under the age of 20 have been subjected to forced sexual acts.
18. Because in several countries, genital mutilation is still allowed and around 200 million women worldwide have undergone this barbarous procedure.
19. Because only starting last year, in Saudi Arabia, were women able to hold public office and have the same employment rights as men.
20. And because even though last year women in Saudi Arabia conquered the right to drive, they still cannot marry, divorce, travel, work or even have surgery without the permission of their guardian man. Also, they cannot appear in public without a Hijab that covers them from head to foot, cannot have custody of their children until they are 7 or 9 years of age, cannot eat in a restaurant that does not have the designated section for the family, or receive an inheritance equal to that of a man’s.
It is necessary for women and men to recognize that, despite the advances made, there are still prejudices and injustices. Only if we recognize this can we advance to a new era, where equality will be synonymous with a more balanced and fair world for all.
Equality is not a matter for women, it is an essential social and economic factor for a better world.
Apart from all the inequalities, larger or smaller according to the economic, political, social or geographic context, history has erased names of great women who would be great examples for the women and girls of today. Carolina Beatriz Ângelo, a feminist doctor in 1911, was the first woman to vote in Portugal because she challenged the statutes that were imposed on her.
Let's celebrate not just the brave women who preceded us, but also the women around us, with whom we cross paths. These women are our friends, families, co-workers, influencers and leaders. They are women who use their voice courageously, who work, who create a culture of equality, who inspire all of us.
To understand the importance of International Women's Day, it is not necessary to be a woman. Think of the girl who wants to study and cannot, just because she is a girl, think of the woman who works the same as a man and in the end receives less money than him, think about the woman who suffers from domestic violence, who suffers a genital mutilation just because she is a woman ... we do not seek a society dominated by women, just a fair one for all.
Happy Women’s Day!
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