06 Mar

International Women’s Day

Secretary-General’s Message on International Women’s Day
8 March 2011

One hundred years ago, when the world first commemorated International Women’s Day, gender equality and women’s empowerment were largely radical ideas.  On this centenary, we celebrate the significant progress that has been achieved through determined advocacy, practical action and enlightened policy making.  Yet, in too many countries and societies, women remain second-class citizens. 

Although the gender gap in education is closing, there are wide differences within and across countries, and far too many girls are still denied schooling, leave prematurely or complete school with few skills and fewer opportunities.  Women and girls also continue to endure unacceptable discrimination and violence, often at the hand of intimate partners or relatives.  In the home and at school, in the workplace and in the community, being female too often means being vulnerable.  And in many conflict zones, sexual violence is deliberately and systematically used to intimidate women and whole communities.

My UNiTE to End Violence Against Women campaign, along with its Network of Men Leaders, is working to end impunity and change mindsets.  There is also growing international resolve to punish and prevent sexual aggression in conflict, and to do more to implement the Security Council’s landmark resolution 1325 on women, peace and security, which highlights the importance of involving women in all aspects of building and keeping peace. 

Another area where we urgently need to see significant progress is on women’s and children’s health.  The September 2010 Summit on the Millennium Development Goals recognized the central importance of this issue, and Member States and the philanthropic community have pledged strong support for my global strategy to save lives and improve the health of women and children over the next four years.

In the realm of decision-making, more women, in more countries, are taking their rightful seat in parliament.  Yet fewer than 10 per cent of countries have female heads of state or government.  Even where women are prominent in politics, they are often severely under-represented in other areas of decision-making, including at the highest levels of business and industry.  A recent UN initiative – the Women’s Empowerment Principles, now embraced by more than 130 major corporations – aims to redress this imbalance.

This year’s observance of International Women’s Day focuses on equal access to education, training and science and technology.  Cell phones and the Internet, for example, can enable women to improve the health and well-being of their families, take advantage of income-earning opportunities, and protect themselves from exploitation and vulnerability.  Access to such tools, backed up by education and training, can help women to break the cycle of poverty, combat injustice and exercise their rights.

The launch this year of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women – UN Women – demonstrates our intent to deepen our pursuit of this agenda.  Only through women’s full and equal participation in all areas of public and private life can we hope to achieve the sustainable, peaceful and just society promised in the United Nations Charter.

Ban Ki-moon

Celebrate the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day on March 8, 2011

On March 8th, thousands of women and men will unite on bridges around the globe to celebrate women’s achievements and put a spotlight on the challenges they continue to face. This year the flagship events will be on the Brooklyn Bridge in New York, the Millennium Bridge in London and the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco and there will be over 100 grassroots events on other bridges around the world, from Sydney Harbour to the Grand Barriere Bridge joining Rwanda and the Congo.

It’s super easy to organize your own Bridge Event! You just decide which bridge you’d like to stand on, create an event on the map and then invite your friends and anyone you think will be interested. You’ll need to apply for a permit if required, and then just make sure to capture and share your event with the rest of the world! This site contains all the info and materials you’ll need to help organize your own bridge event.

To find, join or create your own event please see Google’s International Women’s Day site. For more info on Women for Women International, see the Women For Women website.

We invite you to join tens of thousands of people coming together on bridges all over the world — from the Millennium Bridge in London, the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City, the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, to the Grand Barriere Bridge joining Rwanda and Congo — to show your support for women’s causes and celebrate women’s achievements.

We also invite you to donate to one of the incredible organizations that work to improve the lives of women worldwide. Support a cause you care about at the bottom of the page. See you on the bridge!

Find a bridge event near you and register, or create your own bridge event

Register to join a bridge event. Attend in person or virtually. Use the search box at the top of the map to find and select a bridge event near you. Or create your own bridge event: click the “Create new event” button at the top of the map and invite others to join using our Event Toolkit.

The Event Toolkit includes assets that you can take with you to the event such as hand held banners or use to promote it such as online banners or posters.

Support a cause that you care about

  • Empowerment
  • Economic security
  • Education
  • Equality & leadership
  • Health
  • Safety and security

75% of all women cannot get bank loans because they have unpaid or insecure jobs and lack property ownership rights. Women are also 21% less likely than men even to own a mobile phone and therefore to have similar communication possibilities*.

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