110 years ago, the very first International Women’s Day (IWD) was marked and since then it has been recognised by the United Nations, even established in several countries as an official holiday. It is an occasion to commemorate women’s rights and achievements, to raise awareness against gender-based discrimination, violence and different forms of oppression and also take action for more inclusive and just societies.
IWD is an opportunity for all of us to not only commemorate and raise awareness on women’s rights and equality, but also to consider how we are generally contributing individually and collectively to a more equal Europe and world. It is an opportunity to take action, to march and to strike for the abolishment of the gender pay gap, for equal representation of women in political systems, for making offline and online spaces safer for everyone. As with every social change, the change has to start from society and in this particular case the role of education is vital, especially with civic education.
Last year, we celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. Especially in the middle of a world pandemic, women’s rights have been widely and disproportionately affected. According to the 2020 report of the UN Secretary General, the impact of COVID-19 and the global pandemic on women has been immense, deepening pre-existing inequalities in regards to the economic independence of women, their employment conditions and opportunities, the impact to their health (both physical, mental and emotional health) and an extremely worrying increase in gender-based violence. The global pandemic is developing everyday, but so is gender inequality and inequity.
Equal rights are a value that we, AEGEEans, have been striving for, as it embodies the ideals of a democratic, diverse and borderless Europe. Let’s all commemorate today the 110th anniversary of IWD not only by sharing a post on social media to raise awareness on the day, but more importantly by reflecting on our everyday behavior, by changing our mindset and by taking more actions to advance in practice womens’ rights and empowerment in our societies. As young people and active citizens, it is in our hands to change both ourselves and the society we live in with small steps everyday. These small steps will bring us each time closer to a more equal and inclusive Europe that we can proudly call home.