Celebrating International Women’s Day | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Celebrating International Women’s Day

Posted: Mar 10, 2016 at 7:03 am   /   by   /   comments (1)

John  Ajiboye, Lagos

The first International Women’s Day occurred on March 19 in 1911. The inaugural event, which included rallies and organized meetings, was a big success in countries such as Austria, Denmark, Germany andSwitzerland.

The UN drew global attention to women’s concerns in 1975 by calling for an International Women’s Year. It also convened the first conference on women in Mexico City that year. The UN General Assembly
then invited member states to proclaim March 8 as the UN Day for Women’s Rights and International Peace in 1977. The day aimed to helpnations worldwide eliminate discrimination against women. It also focused on helping women gain full and equal participation in globaldevelopment.

The 2016 theme for International Women’s Day is “Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step It Up for Gender Equality”. The idea of this theme is toconsider how to accelerate the 2030 Agenda , building momentum for the effective implementation of the new Sustainable Development Goal , especially goal number 5 -Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls- and goal number 4 –Ensure inclusive and qualityeducation for all and promote lifelong learning. The theme will also focus on new commitments under UN Women’s “Step It Up” initiative, andother existing commitments on gender equality, women’s empowerment and women’s human rights.

Some key targets of the 2030 Agenda include: 1. By 2030, ensure that all girls and boys complete free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education leading to relevant and Goal-4 effective learning outcomes.

2. By 2030, ensure that all girls and boys have access to quality early childhood development, care and preprimary education so that they are ready for primary education.

3. End all forms of discrimination against all women and girls everywhere.

4. Eliminate all forms of violence against all women and girls in the public and private spheres, including trafficking and sexual and othertypes of exploitation.

5. Eliminate all harmful practices, such as child, early and forced marriage and female genital mutilation.

Much progress has been made to protect and promote women’s rights in recent times. However, nowhere in the world can women claim to have all the same rights and opportunities as men, according to the UN. The majority of the world’s 1.3 billion absolute poor are women. Onaverage, women receive between 30 and 40 percent less pay than men earn for the same work. Women also continue to be victims of violence, with rape and domestic violence listed as significant causes of disability and death among women worldwide.

Worldwide, women continue to contribute to social, economic, cultural and political achievement and they have much to celebrate this year.
But progress towards gender parity has slowed in many places. The World Economic Forum predicted in 2014 that it would take up to 2095 to achieve global gender parity. Then one year later in 2015, they estimated that a slowdown in the already glacial pace of progress meant the gender gap would not close entirely until 2133.

In Nigeria where there are different form of discriminations and violence against women and the girl child, many Non GovernmentOrganisations have been championing the cause of women. Notable among them is maternal and child health NGO – The Wellbeing Foundation founded in 2004 by Her Excellency, Chief (Mrs) Toyin Ojora-Saraki who was at the time, the First Lady of Kwara State and now the wife of Nigeria Senate President.

To celebrate International Women’s Day 2016, government, other NGOs including men and women – should also pledge to take a concrete step to help achieve gender parity more quickly – whether to help women and girls achieve their ambitions, call for gender-balanced leadership, respect and value difference, develop more inclusive and flexible cultures or root out workplace bias. Each of us can be a leader within our own spheres of influence and commit to take pragmatic action to accelerate gender parity.
Therefore as we are celebrating this year International Women’s Day, all hand must be on deck in taking action to accelerate gender parityGlobally, with individuals pledging to move from talk to purposeful action – and with men and women joining forces – we can collectively help women advance, equal to their numbers and realize the limitless potential they offer economies, the world over. We have urgent work to do and everyone must be ready to accelerate gender parity.