Culture

International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day is celebrated now in 60 countries across the world. It began in 1908 when thousands of women protested in New York against unequal payment for women and poor working conditions.

Winning The Right to Vote

In 1901, the first National Women’s Day was celebrated in honor of that strike. But the right to vote was earned only 11 years later, in the United States of America. Women in Germany can vote since 1918 and they could also run for election. Women in the UK could also vote since 1918, but needed to be married or part of the local government register.

French women were allowed to vote only in 1944 and in Switzerland, they were granted in 1971. Nonetheless, women in Saudi Arabia have the right to vote only since 2015.

These facts show how different is the pace of progress all around the world. It took more than one century for women all over the world to have this basic right. However, there are still places in the world today where it is very difficult for women to vote.

French demonstrators marching on International Women’s day, 1981.
Credit: Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images

Facing Challenges even Today

In Uganda, for example, even if they do have the right, going to the polls may be extremely dangerous for women as they face acts of violence.

Similar things happen in Kenya, when pregnant women are not to be seen in public, so they could not go out to vote.

Even in Afghanistan, women are threatened with exclusion and violence. Under Shi’a Family Law, women have to require permission to leave the home and even if women rebelled against this in 2014, they are still threatened by the conservative and often elderly members of the community.

The Fight for Women’s Rights

The fight continues and although we’ve come a long way, there is still so much more to conquer. Women still face injustice, threats, sexual harassment, unequal pay and not the same opportunities all in all.

International Women’s Day had a sole purpose: achieving full gender equality. But we all know that we are far from that and even if in the western countries this gap is not so great anymore, in many parts of the world the gap is greater than ever…

In politics or business, men dominate even in 2020. In many parts of the world, people are not ready to have a woman president or a woman in charge. Many stereotypes regarding women still exist in all cultures and women deal with this continuous struggle to prove the opposite.

Women are expected to be less and that is why, in the end, they gathered their force and inner strength to be MORE!

Finland’s Prime Minister Sanna Marin, Minister of Education Li Andersson, Minister of Finance Katri Kulmuni and Minister of Interior Maria Ohisalo pose after the first meeting of the new government in Helsinki, Finland December 10, 2019. Lehtikuva/Vesa Moilanen via REUTERS

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