International Women’s Day is a worldwide celebration of the social, cultural, political and economic achievements of women. The day also sends out strong messages concerning respect, love and appreciation for women, while at the same time promoting gender equality.
It was first acknowledged in the early 1900s when 1,500 women marched through New York City demanding shorter working hours, better pay and voting rights.
The main objective of International Women’s Day is to bring awareness to the world of the inequalities between male and female. For me, this year’s celebrations provide due cause for reflection on what it’s so far been like growing up as a young woman in Saint Lucia.
As a child I was often told that I couldn’t take part in certain activities, such as going on a biking escapade, that my brothers were in because I was a girl. I saw myself capable of doing the things they claimed were for boys only, just as well, if not better. Every time I was told I couldn’t do something because I was “just a girl”, I felt more determined to prove everyone wrong.
As I’ve grown up, I realise that on a wider scope, this is the core of some of the issues women continue to face. Even today there is a pay gap, and in politics and most businesses women aren’t awarded or promoted as easily. In some male-dominated societies women’s access to education, healthcare and other rights is left in the hands of men supported by cultures and belief systems bent on their oppression. Violence against women is predominant worldwide.
While women continue in their fight for equality around the world, things are progressing in more open-minded societies. Even in Saint Lucia we see glimpses of change. According to research by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) done in 2015, Saint Lucia ranked number three for places where your boss was more likely to be female.
On International Women’s Day, ladies (and some men) join each other to raise global awareness of still existing gender inequalities through debates, rallies, performances, networking events, conferences and marches, all in an effort to bring governments, corporations, women’s organisations and charities together.
International Women’s Day is a day of commemoration of the achievements of women who have overcome the barriers irrespective of their national, ethnic, linguistic, cultural, economic or political barriers.
The United Nations continues to demonstrate support for International Women’s Month with ‘Be Bold For Change’ serving as this year’s theme.
I have not previously participated in any of the campaigns for gender equality but this year I have decided to #BeBoldForChange and take action. There are other campaigns happening throughout the month, with a focus on promoting equality. If you are interested in participating you can find more information on the International Women’s Day website.
This year I believe we should all be bold for a change by participating in campaigns and wearing the colour red on March 8 in solidarity with women around the world!