International Women's Day also called International Working Women's Day is celebrated each year on 8 March. It honors one of the first organized actions by working women in the world in 1857, when hundreds of women workers in garment and textile factories in New York City staged a strike against low wages, long working hours, and inhumane working conditions.
In 1975, during International Women's Year, the United Nations began celebrating 8 March as International Women's Day. Two years later, in December 1977, the General Assembly adopted a resolution proclaiming a United Nations Day for Women's Rights and International Peace to be observed on a date to be chosen by each Member State. Why dedicate a day exclusively to the celebration of the world's women?
In adopting its resolution on the observance of Women's Day, the General Assembly cited two reasons: to recognize the fact that securing peace and social progress and the full enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms require the active participation, equality and development of women; and to acknowledge the contribution of women to the strengthening of international peace and security.
For the women of the world, the day's symbolism has a wider meaning: It is an occasion to review how far they have come in their struggle for equality, peace and development. It is also an opportunity to unite, network and mobilize for meaningful change.
In recent decades, women have made tremendous progress towards achieving equality with men. Women's access to education and proper health care has increased; their participation in the paid labor force has grown; and legislation that promises equal opportunities for women and respect for their human rights has been adopted in many countries. The world now has a growing number of women as policy-makers, however, nowhere in the world can women claim to have the same rights and opportunities as men.
Women continue to be among the poorest: the majority of the world's 1.3 billion absolute poor are women. Of the roughly 776 million people around the world who cannot read and write, two thirds are female. On the average, women receive between 30 and 40 percent less pay than men earn for the same work.
Everywhere women continue to be victims of violence, with rape and domestic violence listed as significant causes of disability and death among women worldwide. Clearly there is still a lot of work that needs to be done.
I encourage everyone to do their best to make a difference, think globally and act locally. Do your bit to ensure that the future for girls is bright, equal, safe and rewarding.
By Reema Chadha, a Business Development Manager at MDG, Kuwait
is a prolific blogger now writing for the Times Kuwait