International Women’s Day: the annual worldwide event which, since the early 1900s, is the day to celebrate women’s great achievements and call for gender equality. From Afghanistan to Scotland, we took a look at how this day is celebrated globally!
On International Women’s Day 2017, Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) MSF will celebrate the women of Afghanistan, and highlight the dangers they face during pregnancy and childbirth. Afghanistan remains one of the most dangerous places in the world for childbirth due to a lack of skilled attendance. All of MSF’s projects in Afghanistan emphasise training local female staff. By strengthening their skills, MSF is helping ensure its projects can respond better to the women’s needs.
In Italy the tradition has been to celebrate women by giving out mimosa flowers to female colleagues, family members and classmates. However, in recent years the day is used to draw attention to campaigns against domestic violence. Rates of femicide (defined as “the killing of females by males because they are females”) by a partner or family member are shockingly high in Italy. The Italian government declared the issue a ‘crisis’ in the summer of 2016 following the brutal murders of three women in the space of one week, calling for action from the government to help prevent violence against women.
In the USA, women will be going on strike for the day, in a movement billed as “A Day Without A Woman.” The aim of the protest is to show the world what would happen if women were taken out of the equation for a day. This cry for gender equity is organised by the activists who were behind the Women’s March in Washington earlier this year.
Saudi Arabia –
Saudi Arabia celebrated its own Women’s Day last month, a first for the strongly conservative Islamic kingdom. The three-day event included speeches about women’s rights, proposing an end to the country’s male guardianship system. Princess Al-Jawhara bint Fahd Al-Saud attended the celebrations amongst other female members of the Saudi royal family, hosting a discussion about women and their role in education “We want to celebrate the Saudi woman and her successful role, and remind people of her achievements in education, culture, medicine, literature and other areas” .
In China this day is an official holiday for women only. However, the country has received plenty of criticism in the past for treating the day more like a commercial holiday, rather than putting the focus on social justice and equality. This is something much-needed to overcome a widely occurring pay gap, especially in rural areas.
Nicola Sturgeon, the First Minister of Scotland, is a passionate advocate of women’s rights and will host 400 women in the Scottish Parliament for International Women’s Day. Sturgeon is a strong supporter of affordable childcare and a gender-balanced cabinet. In The Guardian she wrote: “It’s a source of frustration that, decades on from legislation that was supposed to pave the way for equality of the sexes, too many gaps remain”. The event is now in its 12th year, highlighting the achievements of women in business, politics and society.
International Women’s Day continues to hold its importance around the globe – we still have a long way to go, but today we hope everyone will celebrate sisterhood. Tell us how you celebrate International Women’s Day in your culture?