“The Journey of Women’s Rights”: UN Women Celebrates International Women’s Day [VIDEO]
- One hundred years ago, only two countries allowed women to vote. Today, that right is virtually universal and women have now been elected to lead governments on every continent.
- Today two-thirds of countries have specific laws that penalize domestic violence and the United Nations Security Council now recognizes sexual violence as a deliberate tactic of war.
- 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.
- Across the world, women continue to earn less than men for the same work.
- In many countries women have unequal access to land and inheritance rights.
- Despite high-profile advances, women still make up only 19 percent of legislatures.
- 8% of peace negotiators, and only 28 women are heads of state or government.
(Source: UN Women)
With all of this in mind, the United Nations launched its newest organization at the end of February: UN Women. UN Women is the UN’s most ambitious effort yet to tackle the issues surrounding gender equality. With former Chilean President Michelle Bachelet at the helm, UN Women has the potential to be a powerful source for change. On this 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day, let’s hope UN Women can reach its goals.
As Bachelet said at the launch celebration:
The decision to establish UN Women reflects global concern with the slow pace of change. It is no longer acceptable to live in a world where young girls are taken out of school and forced into early marriage, where women’s employment opportunities are limited, and where the threat of gender-based violence is a daily reality — at home, in the street, at school and at work.
The neglect of women’s rights means the social and economic potential of half the population is underused. In order to tap this potential, we must open up spaces for women in political leadership, in science and technology, as trade and peace negotiators, and as heads of corporations.
A recent study found that Fortune 500 companies with the highest number of women on their boards were 53 percent more profitable than those with the fewest women board members.
Where women have access to secondary education, good jobs, land and other assets, national growth and stability are enhanced, and we see lower maternal mortality, improved child nutrition, greater food security and less risk of HIV and AIDS.
My own experience has taught me that there is no limit to what women can do — from those who support their families in the hardest of circumstances to those who become ministers of gender affairs, health, finance, foreign affairs — or heads of state.
Take a look at this video from UN Women called “The Journey of Women’s Rights: 1911-2011″:
For more Care2 coverage of International Women’s Day, click here.
Photo courtesy of din! via Flickr