100th Anniversary of International Women’s Day
Today, March 8th, we are celebrating the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day. When Clara Zetkin tabled the idea of an International Women’s Day, it was a very different world, with women demanding not only the vote in some countries but also shorter hours and better pay. A century later, we are still working for equality in many areas. As we celebrate our successes, we must also re-commit ourselves to the task ahead. We have made progress, but much remains to be done… This Update gives a snapshot of the activities being organized by of some of our NFAs to celebrate what has now become a global event. Let us not forget those women, who had the courage 100 years ago to propose that every year women should celebrate on the same day to press for their demands.
Marianne Haslegrave, IFUW President
Launch of the Museo de la Mujer
The Federación Mexicana de Universitarias (FEMU) has chosen International Women’s Day for the official opening of their new Women’s Museum – “El Museo de la Mujer”. According to FEMU founding president and IFUW Vice- President, Patricia Galeana, the museum aims both to offer a place where people can learn about the important role women have played in the development of the country, and to promote gender equality and women’s human rights. It is only the second of its kind in all of Latin America. Through photographs, texts, graphics and multimedia presentations, the exhibits will show situations confronting women and the feminist revolution from historical periods through to modern times. In addition to displaying the works of well-known Mexican artists, the museum will also feature a document centre and a specialized library. We wish FEMU much success with this important initiative.
Some of the Ways IFUW Members are Celebrating
- In Switzerland a panel organized at the United Nations by Conchita Poncini, Coordinator or IFUW’s Representatives in Geneva, is addressing the theme of “Celebrating Women’s Rights: Higher Education – Pathway to Gender Equality and Decent Work”. On the panel will be representatives from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Committee for the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), the International Labour Office Bureau for Gender Equality and the World Bank to share their views. Marianne Haslegrave will speak on behalf of IFUW.
- Members in Amsterdam will celebrate 8th March with a special evening gathering where older members of the Dutch Association (VVAO) in their 70s and 80s will talk with a group of younger members, sharing stories of their student and professional lives.
- The Canadian Federation (CFUW) is encouraging members to participate in Oxfam’s 100 Letters for 100 Years of International Women’s Day. To mark a century of women’s achievements, members are writing letters to the their local newspapers about a woman who inspires them; their wish for women living in other parts of the world, their wish for their daughter, niece, sister or granddaughter; the moment at which they became interested in women’s rights; or what we might celebrate on International Women’s Day in the next 100 years.
IFUW’s Status of Women Committee would like very much to hear about any activities your NFA or local group organized for International Women’s Day 2011. You can send your short articles and photos to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Message from UN Women Executive Director, Michelle Bachelet
In her IWD message, Michelle Bachelet, said that she suspected that the courageous pioneers would look at our world today with a mixture of pride and disappointment. She noted that there has been an unprecedented expansion of women’s legal rights and entitlements, but despite progress over the last century, the hopes of equality expressed on that first International Women’s Day are far from being realized. She pointed out that almost two out of three illiterate adults are women. Girls are still less likely to be in school than boys. Every 90 seconds of every day, a woman dies in pregnancy or due to childbirth-related complications despite us having the knowledge and resources to make birth safe. She remarked that women continue to earn less than men for the same work. In many countries, they have unequal access to land and inheritance rights. Women still make up only 19 percent of legislatures, 8 percent of peace negotiators, and only 28 women are heads of state or government. She stressed that it is not just women who pay the price for this discrimination. We all suffer for failing to make the most of half the world’s talent and potential. We undermine the quality of our democracy, the strength of our economies, the health of our societies and the sustainability of peace. This year’s IWD focus on women’s equal access to education, training, science and technology underscores the need to tap this potential.
For the the full statement see – http://www.unwomen.org/news-events/international-womens-day/messages/#usg .
IWD Message from the High Commissioner for Human Rights
Navanethem Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, saluted the women of the Middle East and North Africa, along with women all over the world who are taking great risks to stand up and fight for dignity, justice and human rights for themselves and for their compatriots. She pointed out that in Egypt and Tunisia, women were on Twitter, on Facebook, on the streets, and marching alongside men, pushing boundaries and breaking gender stereotypes, just as eager for change, for human rights and for democracy. Ms Pillay warned, however, that the work is far from over. In these moments of historic transition, it is important to ensure that women’s rights are not set aside as something to be dealt with after the ‘crucial’ reforms are won. Women’s rights should be at the top of the list of new priorities. She noted that while women have played an important role in the call for change, concerns have already been raised that constitutional reviews and the development of reforms are undertaken without their full participation. Only when women participate fully in policy-making and institution-building will their perspective be truly integrated. The concept of democracy is only truly realised when political decision-making is shared by women and men, and women’s full participation in institutional re-building is guaranteed.
For the full statement see http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/media.aspx?IsMediaPage=true
International Federation of University Women
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