The first International Women's Day was held in 1911 as a day that represents an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of women while calling for greater equality by encouraging effective action for advancing and recognizing women.
This year's theme is all about making it happen; for greater awareness of women’s equality, for more women in senior leadership roles, for growth of women in owned business, for increased financial independence of women, for more women in science, for equal recognition of women in arts and for fairer recognition of women in sport. The hashtag #MakeItHappen ought to be a global trend on social media this week. Gender based violence remains a dominant issue in connection with gender inequality, and as much as many projects address the issue by focusing on supporting victims, it is a matter that needs ongoing discussion and intervention.
At the 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women, the revolutionary Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action was developed, embracing the global call to end all forms of violence against women and girls by highlighting violence against women as one of 12 critical areas of concern. The governments that were represented at the conference recognized that violence is one of the main mechanisms denying women equality, and that it imposes high social, health and economic costs.
Since Beijing, two-thirds of the represented countries have put laws in place to stop domestic violence. Advocacy campaigns around the world have heightened awareness and awakened actions to stop violence. Yet there are still gaps in laws, implementation of legal protection and necessary services; BUT momentum has begun, and needs to quickly accelerate.
This year as we mark the 20th anniversary of Beijing we take a look at how violence is a serious area of concern that needs to be contested. Astounding numbers show that 1 in 3 women have experienced physical or sexual violence, mostly by an intimate partner; about 120 million girls have been forced into intercourse or other sexual acts at some point in their lives; and 133 million women and girls have undergone female genital mutilation -- globally. Sadly, more often than not, cases of violence against women go unreported.
Ultimately, International Women’s Day 2015 calls for solidarity in imparting the concerns surrounding gender based violence. Thus, we are also called to #PaintItPurple! (Another tag that is aligned with this annual celebration) Why purple? In 1908, the colour scheme of purple, white and green was used to symbolize the plight of women who protested about their right to vote. Purple symbolizes justice and dignity - two values not only associated with women's equality, but with the action plan towards ending GBV.