International Women’s Day is a time for making a difference.
Observed every 8 March since 1909, its history threads through universal suffrage to the 1979 Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, the 1995 Beijing Declaration and beyond.
Kathy Hirschfeld, President of the UN Women National Committee Australia, said International Women’s Day (IWD) is a time to celebrate progress while reflecting on ongoing challenges.
“It’s a chance to think about what we have to achieve before women are free-and-equal participants in all communities globally and how each of us can make a difference,” she said.
UN Women’s IWD 2018 theme is ‘Leave no woman behind’, focussing on the vital roles women play in humanitarian aid and disaster planning and response.
In those and many other fields, female leaders help empower other women and girls, but the challenges of ingrained stereotypes and gendered roles are numerous and difficult.
But times are changing.
A significant attitudinal shift towards female equality and emancipation, driven by the #MeToo and #TimesUp campaigns, has helped empower women across the world.
“It’s certainly been interesting to watch this outpouring of women saying ‘enough is enough’ and encouraging to see the support—of men and women—for women to share their stories,” Kathy said.
“It feels like a tide is turning, thanks to the courage and dedication of the women behind the movements.”
Everyone has a part to play in achieving gender equality, whether it’s challenging stereotypes, ensuring women have equal access to opportunities, or simply sharing care and household duties, Kathy said.
“Sometimes I find myself wondering how I can make a difference, and then I realise that we can impact so many women’s lives and have a big effect on them.”
Find out more about UN Women at unwomen.org.au