International Women’s Day 2011: Equal Access to Education, Training and Science and Technology

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Message from Michelle Bachelet Executive Director, U.N. Women

March 8 is International Women’s Day – This Year Marks 100 Years

The first International Womens Day events were run in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland in 1911 and attended by over one million people. 100 years later, International Womens Day (IWD) has become a global mainstream phenomena celebrated

across many countries and is an official holiday in approximately 25 countries including Afghanistan, Russia, Ukraine, Vietnam and Zambia. This year’s theme “Equal access to education, training and science and technology: Pathway to decent work for women” is every apropos given that women in the United States still earn significantly less than their male counterparts

March 8 sees extensive global womens activity. Performer and social activist, Annie Lennox, will lead a mass march across Londons Millennium Bridge for charity. In Washington D.C. over a thousand people will descend on Capitol Hill demanding a better world for millions of marginalized women and girls around the globe. A major international businesswomens conference will be hosted in Sydney, Australia. Schools and governments around the world are participating in the day. Trade Unions and charities are campaigning. Global corporations are hosting conferences and distributing extensive resource packs. The United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon delivers a formal message (You can read it here.). The United States even designates the whole month of March as Women’s History Month as officially proclaimed by President Obama on February 28, 2011.

International Womens Day is a global celebration of the economic, political, and social achievements of women past, present, and future. However, activity has not always been on the increase. Australian entrepreneur and womens campaigner Glenda Stone, who founded the www.internationalwomensday.com website, a global hub of events and information, said:

A decade ago International Womens Day was disappearing. Activity in Europe, where International Womens Day actually began, was very low. Providing a global online platform helped sustain and accelerate momentum for this important day. Holding only a handful of events ten years ago, the United Kingdom has now become the global leader for International Womens Day activity, followed sharply by Canada, United States and Australia. 2011 will see thousands of events globally for the first time.

More recently, social networking websites like Twitter, Facebook and Youtube have also helped fuel International Womens Day activity. Generally the day has moved away from its socialist Suffragette beginnings to become more mainstream in celebrating womens achievements. Womens rights campaigners, however, continue to remind that vigilance rather than complacency is essential in striving for womens equality.

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