International Women’s Day points to continuing inequality

March 8th marked International Women’s Day – which organizers say both points to the global achievements of women and also that gender parity has slowed in many places, according to www.InternationalWomensDay.com.

The World Economic Forum predicted in 2014 that it would take until 2095 to achieve global gender parity.

“Then one year later in 2015, they estimated that a slowdown in the already glacial pace of progress meant the gender gap wouldn’t close entirely until 2133.”

In today’s day and age, that is hard to believe. It seems in so many ways that we have come so far, but when it comes to this issue, we are moving at a snail’s pace.

According to the web site, everyone – men and women – can pledge to take a concrete step to help achieve gender parity more quickly – whether to help women and girls achieve their ambitions, call for gender-balanced leadership, respect and value difference, develop more inclusive and flexible cultures or root out workplace bias.

“Each of us can be a leader within our own spheres of influence and commit to take pragmatic action to accelerate gender parity.”

According to Wikipedia, the earliest Women’s Day observance was held on Feb. 28th, 1909, in New York; it was organized by the Socialist Party of America in remembrance of the 1908 strike of the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union.

In August 1910, an International Women’s Conference was organized to precede the general meeting of the Socialist Second International in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Inspired in part by the American socialists, German Socialist Luise Zietz proposed the establishment of an annual ‘International Woman’s Day’ and was seconded by fellow socialist and later communist leader Clara Zetkin, although no date was specified at that conference.

Delegates agreed with the idea as a strategy to promote equal rights, including suffrage, for women.

The following year, on March 19th, 1911, IWD was marked for the first time, by over a million people in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland.

In the West, International Women’s Day was first observed as a popular event after 1977 when the United Nations General Assembly invited member states to proclaim March 8th as the UN Day for women’s rights and world peace.

Minister Stephanie McLean issued the following statement yesterday. “International Women’s Day is a day to celebrate women’s accomplishments and our society’s progress towards gender equality, and to reflect on the work we still need to do. In Alberta under our government, progress has taken the form of a gender-balanced cabinet, a new Status of Women Ministry that was officially launched yesterday, and steps to accommodate MLAs who are expecting or raising children,” she said. “International Women’s Day is also a day to remember the challenges that women continue to face here in Alberta and beyond, including economic insecurity and high rates of violence. By working together to achieve equality for women in Alberta, we will build a stronger and more prosperous province and a better society for all.”

Meanwhile, Catherine Booth, who along with her husband William, who founded the Salvation Army in London, put it like this way back in 1859. It was a time when it was simply unimaginable that women did much outside of the home. But Catherine and William both knew it was time to sow seeds of change – both in church ministry and in how women’s roles were perceived in society.

“There seems to be a great deal of unnecessary fear of women occupying any position which involves publicity, lest she should be rendered unfeminine by the indulgence of ambition or vanity; but why should woman any more than man be charged with ambition when impelled to use her talents for the good of her race?”

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