International Women’s Day (8 March) is an occasionmarked by women’s groups around the world.

This date isalso commemoratedat the UnitedNations and isdesignated in manycountries as anational holiday.When women on allcontinents, often divided by national boundaries and by ethnic,linguistic, cultural, economic and political differences, cometogether to celebrate their Day, they can look back to atradition that represents decades of struggle for equality,justice, peace and development.International Women’s Day is the story of ordinary womenas makers of history; it is rooted in the centuries-old struggleof women to participate in society on an equal footing with men.


Gender equality and women’s empowerment are fundamental to the globalmission of the United Nations to achieve equal rights and dignity for all…Butequality for women and girls is also an economic and social imperative. Untilwomen and girls are liberated from poverty and injustice, all our goals —peace,security, sustainable development — stand in jeopardy.UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moonFew causes promoted by the United Nations have generated more intense and widespreadsupport than the campaign to promote and protect the equal rights of women. The Charterof the United Nations, signed in San Francisco in 1945, was the first international agreementto proclaim gender equality as a fundamental human right. Since then, the Organization hashelped create a historic legacy of internationally agreed strategies, standards, and goals toadvance the status of women worldwide.Today a central organizing principle of the work of the United Nations is that no enduringsolution to society’s most threatening social, economic and political problems can be foundwithout the full participation, and the full empowerment, of the world’s women.Although International Women’s Day is held to celebrate women’s achievements, it’s also atime to understand and discuss the concerning issues that women still face.It’s a fact that . . .

  • Over 70 percent of the world’s poor are women and girls.
  • Two thirds of the world’s 774 million adults who are illiterate are women.
  • 66% of the world’s work is done by women, but only 10% of global income is earned by women and a mere 1% of global property is owned by women.
  • The average global ratio for women in senior management positions remains as one woman for every nine men.
  • Throughout the world over half a million women die each year from treatable and preventable complications of pregnancy and childbirth, an average of about one deathevery minute.
  • Worldwide, women are more likely than men to have low-paid, low status and vulnerable jobs, with limited or no social protection or basic rights. They are alsotypically paid less; on average a woman’s wages are 17% lower than those of a man and only 13 out of 500 CEOs of the largest companies in the world are female.
  • Seventy five percent of the world’s women are unable to receive bank loans because they have unpaid or insecure jobs: Receiving credit enables women to start a businesswhich can improve their income levels and give them an opportunity to lift themselves out of poverty.

(Sources: UN Women, United Nations Human Development Report 2010, The World’s Women 2010:Trends and Statistics.)