International Women's Day (2021)
International Women's Day has been observed since the early 1900's, as women grew restless, radical in ideology and more active in campaigning for change. However, it was first celebrated by the United Nations in 1975 and in 1977, the General Assembly adopted a resolution proclaiming a United Nations Day for Women’s Rights and International Peace to be observed by Member States, in accordance with historical and national traditions.
In 1996, the UN announced their first annual theme "Celebrating the past, Planning for the Future" which was followed in 1997 with "Women at the Peace table", in 1998 with "Women and Human Rights", in 1999 with "World Free of Violence Against Women", and so continued each year until present.
The theme of this year's celebration is "Women in Leadership : Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world” which aims to celebrate the tremendous efforts made by women and girls all over the world in ensuring a more equitable future for all. Correspondingly, during the sixty-fifth session of the Commission on the Status of Women (2021), women's full and effective participation and decision-making in public life, as well as the elimination of violence, for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls, were priority points of discussion.
Despite all the achievements made in regards to women’s rights, alarming statistical data demonstrates that women are the most vulnerable to violence, discrimination, poverty and illiteracy, primarily due to the gendered division of assets, societal power dynamics between men and women, as well as the fact that women and girls shoulder an unequal burden of unpaid domestic responsibilities.
Furthermore, according to global statistics, less than 20% of the world’s landholders are women and inequality persists in leadership positions as women are underrepresented in positions of authority including domestic political leadership positions.
The Geneva Institute for Human Rights commends the initiatives launched by the United Nations and the European Union that focus on eliminating violence against women and girls, in all its forms, and the measures taken to ensure the empowerment of women and their placement at the forefront of efforts to achieve gender equality, in accordance with the Sustainable Development Goals.
The Geneva Institute for Human Rights affirms its commitment to upholding the rights of women, gender equality and the empowerment of women as evident through its various programs, activities and projects. Within that context, the Institute continues to work with all partners around the world to empower women and raise awareness on women's rights issues, particularly in the Middle East and North Africa, considering that women continue to face gender based discrimination that create significant barriers to the full realization of their rights.
While celebrating International Women's Day, the Institute calls on States to fulfill their international obligations arising from their accession to international conventions guaranteeing the rights of women, and also urges governments to abolish discriminatory national provisions that undermine women’s rights, including discriminatory provisions in personal status laws that negatively impact women’s autonomy, discriminatory laws and application of laws relating to honor killings, discrimination in nationality and citizenship laws, as well as provisions in procedural laws.
Similarly, the Institute stresses on the importance of amending or repealing discriminatory laws and improving existing national mechanisms to demonstrate a clearer and more sustained action in ensuring that States are not allowing nor practicing discrimination against women and girls.
Most importantly, the Institute urges countries that have not yet joined the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and its complementary protocol to do so without reservation.
The Geneva Institute for Human Rights aspires to contribute to ensuring the social, political and economic equality for women, subsequently resulting in the achievement of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. There is no future without the equal participation of all women and girls!