Annually, every 8th of March, we celebrate International Women’s Day (IWD). It’s a day dedicated to the “social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. More than that, it is a “call to action” for gender equality or accelerating gender parity, as stated on International Women’s Day site. What is IWD’s origin or how did it come to be?
Before it became an annual event recognized by the United Nations (UN), IWD started as a labor movement. To those unfamiliar with the (hi)story, in 1908, about “15,000 women marched through New York demanding shorter working hours, better pay, and the right to vote.”
The following year the Socialist Party of America announced the first National Woman’s Day. A story is also told about a German communist and women’s rights activist named Clara Zetkin, born in 1857, who came up with the idea of an international day for women at the International Conference of Working Women in Copenhagen in 1910. It was said that “the 100 women present at the conference, from 17 countries, agreed to it unanimously.”
The result of which is the IWD first celebrated in 1911 in Austria, Denmark, Germany, and Switzerland. It was officially recognized by the UN in 1975, and since then, the IWD has been celebrated for women’s rights and world peace with a theme every year. Today, as stated in IWD, “it belongs to all groups collectively everywhere. It is not a country, group, or organization specific.”
For this year, the campaign theme is #BreakTheBias. It calls for all groups, individuals, sectors, etc. to advocate for a gender-equal world—to take a stand and be part of a world that’s free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination. IWD calls for a world that is “diverse, equitable, and inclusive. It calls for a world where difference is valued and celebrated.
UNFPA launches ‘Here For Her’ campaign
In the Philippines, there are specific issues related to gender inequality that need attention and immediate solution so that we can all celebrate and enjoy a sustainable future. Not only should these issues be addressed in a timely manner, but more importantly, collective efforts geared towards solving these problems must continue to prevail until we achieve a world that’s free of gender-based biases and violence.
In time for IWD, The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in the Philippines, an international development agency that works on population and development, sexual and reproductive health, and gender, launched the “Here For Her” campaign.
In line with the causes that IWD advocates, “Here For Her” is a call to action campaign engaging all stakeholders to accelerate the pace in empowering women and girls to realize their rights and full potential.
The flagship campaign is launched to promote commitment to end preventable maternal deaths, end unintended pregnancies, and prevent gender-based violence and other harmful practices.
“Every day, too many women die of preventable causes. We need gender equality for a sustainable tomorrow,” says Gustavo Gonzalez, United Nation’s Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator.
“Too often, the ones who suffer the most are the marginalized members of the society—women, pregnant women, children, among others. We must learn from their experience and ideas as these are important in solving problems, mitigating issues, and adapting to changes,” Gonzalez shared during the official launch of UNFPA’s “Here For Her” campaign done via Zoom and hosted by Dr. Daniel Laurel.
“We call for everyone’s involvement in this campaign. The United Nations here in the Philippines along with its partners, urge for the participation of the public especially of the women in all sectors to be more involved in society. Because when women and girls have access to information, they become empowered and productive members of their communities and the society and they can be who they aim to be,” Gonzalez adds.
For the “Here for Her” campaign, the theme is “Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow.”
“Achieving gender equality is further challenged by climate change. Women and girls are effective and powerful leaders and change-makers for climate adaptation and mitigation,” said Dr. Leila Sajii Joudane, UNFPA Country Representative to the Philippines.
“Climate change is not gender-neutral. It is a multiplier of existing inequalities and vulnerabilities. In the Philippines, some of the issues we want to tackle are the end of teenage pregnancy as well as child marriage. As we deal with these climate-related emergencies, we want to make sure that we are culturally sensitive, that we are inclusive, and that we leave no one behind. This is UNFPA’s commitment. And we are doing this to achieve equality and long-lasting peace,” Dr. Joudance ends.
Since its inception in 1969, UNFPA has been leading in upholding the health and dignity of women and girls by preventing and responding to gender-based violence, addressing the delivery of emergency reproductive health kits, and ensuring safe childbirth, especially during humanitarian crises.
These efforts are seen in previous calamities, including Super Typhoon Odette (Rai) which ravaged many parts of Visayas and Mindanao in December 2021.
For more information on UNFPA Philippines, visit philippines.unfpa.org, and/or follow facebook.com/UNFPAph/, instagram.com/unfpaph/, and twitter.com/UNFPAp