On the 8th of March we celebrate International Women's Day. Historically this day marks a global call to action for gender equality, and celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The movement for women's equality needs the collective efforts of all who care about human rights and action at a local, national and international level. As the result of the oppression and inequality, women have become more vocal and active in campaigning for change.
In 1908 women marched in New York City demanding shorter hours, better pay and voting rights. In 1910, Clara Zetkin, the leader of the Women's Office for the Social Democratic Party in Germany, speaking at a conference, proposed the idea of an International Women's Day and suggested that every year in every country there should be a celebration on the same day - a Women's Day - demanding women's rights and equality. At the conference, over 100 women from 17 countries welcomed Zetkin's suggestion and unanimously approved the 8th of March as the International Women's Day.
International Women's Day was officially accepted and celebrated for the first time by the United Nations in 1975 and, in December 1977, the General Assembly adopted a resolution proclaiming a United Nations Day for Women's Rights and International Peace to be observed on any day of the year by Member States, in accordance with their historical and national traditions.
Great improvements have been made and throughout the last century the world has witnessed significant changes in women's equality and emancipation. There are now more women in the boardroom, greater equality in legislative rights, and an increased critical mass of women's visibility as impressive role models. This may give the impression that women have gained true equality. But we know that women are still not paid the same as that of their male counterparts, women still are not present in equal numbers in business or politics, and globally a woman's right to access education, health, and housing is not equal to men. Further, the violence perpretrated against women is worse than that against men.
International Women's Day is an official holiday in many countries including Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, China (for women only), Cuba, Georgia, Guinea-Bissau, Eritrea, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Madagascar (for women only), Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Nepal (for women only), Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Vietnam and Zambia. In some places men show their appreciation to their mother, partner, friends and colleagues and in some countries the day has the equivalent status of Mother's Day.
At the Refugee Therapy Centre we work towards making a difference, and we regard women's rights as basic human rights. We join in the local and global celebrations and strive to make every day a peaceful day for women and girls. We work towards ensuring that the future for women and girls who have been traumatised by enduring torture and other forms of violence can be bright, equal, safe and rewarding for every single person we serve.