International Women’s Day
International Women’s Day is celebrated in many countries around the world. It is a day when women are recognized for their achievements without regard to divisions, whether national, ethnic, linguistic, cultural, economic or political. International Women’s Day first emerged from the activities of labour movements at the turn of the twentieth century in North America and across Europe. A time of great expansion and turbulence in the industrialized world that saw booming population growth and the rise of radical ideologies.
The early 1900s were a time of great turmoil for everyone, especially women. With massive changes in industry, economy and policy, women around the world seized the opportunity to rally for their rights in pursuit of a better, equitable and just future.
International Women’s Day was marked for the first time on March 19th 1911, to honour the movement for women’s rights and to build support for achieving universal suffrage for women. In addition to the right to vote and to hold public office, they demanded women’s rights to work, to vocational training and to put an end to workplace discrimination. More then 1 million women and men attended rallies across, Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland.
Since those early years, International Women’s Day has assumed a new global dimension for women in developed and developing countries alike. The growing international women’s movement, which has been strengthened by four global United Nations women’s conferences, has helped make the commemoration a rallying point to build support for women’s rights and participation in the political and economic arenas.
This year in commemoration of International Women’s Day, Australian Volunteers International (AVI) alongside Komnas Perempuan will host a public discussion that will focus on the issue of public involvement and support for the elimination of sexual violence.
Violence against women is a serious problem in Indonesia and unfortunately it is on the rise. Komnas Perempuan noted that in 2015, 321,752 cases of violence against women were recorded across the country. Sexual violence is a major issue in Indonesia, with studies showing that on average, each day 35 women fall the victim of this kind of abuse. There is not doubt that serious change is needed to address the issue. We believe change must come from both law makers, and enforcers of the nation as well as civil society itself.
International Women’s Day serves as the perfect opportunity to reaffirm and increase commitment to eliminating sexual violence and gender based violence from the local and international community.
As celebrations and numerous events are held simultaneously across the globe, we recognise how many battles have been won in the fight for women’s rights and justice globally, however, we also recognise that we must continue our fight and campaign against intolerance, segregation, oppression and inequality.
In the wise words of Gloria Steinhem, “The story of women’s struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organization but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights.”
As modern day Suffragettes both female and male let us continue the work and spirit of the almighty Suffragettes, fighting the good fight. And let us recognize, honour and celebrate the important and impressive achievements of women globally.