March 8, International Women’s Day
The following piece is prepared by Sr. Rose Bernadette (Meg) Gallagher, one of Maryknoll’s representatives at the United Nations. She participates in NGO working groups on women and the girl child, and most recently participated in the 56th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women.
Every year on March 8, International Women’s Day, we celebrate the stories of ordinary women and girls. It is a day when women and girls are recognized for their achievements without regard for divisions, whether national, ethnic, linguistic, cultural, economic or political. The day galvanizes communities to enable women and girls gain the confidence to start planning their futures and strategically position themselves to benefit from social, economic and political developments.
It is a day to honor the advances made by women and girls as well as a day to remind us of the continued actions necessary to ensure these advances are maintained and built upon to achieve women and girls’ equality in all aspects of life. It is about refocusing our efforts towards catapulting the visibility of girls in order to position them for a future with gender parity and equal opportunities for all.
The day is marked at a time when women and girls continue to inexplicably suffer the burden of poverty; victimized by war, rape, and gender disparity; forced to live as social outcasts due to ancient traditions and customs that violate the integrity of their person. Nonetheless, the primary theme of this year’s Commission on the Status of Women – Empower rural women – end hunger and poverty– is premised on the recognition of 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 men.
Read about the Maryknoll-sponsored presentation at the UN during the recent Commission on the Status of Women: Panama talk at UN reveals corporate abuses, lack of women's rights
As we celebrate this March 8, we acknowledge the positive role the United Nations and the newly formed UN Women continue to play to advance the cause of gender equality. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon said, “UN Women is a recognition of a simple truth: Equality for women and girls is not only a basic human right, it is a social and economic imperative. Where women are fully represented, societies are more peaceful and stable.”
Photo of Egyptian girl by Eric Wheater, courtesy of Maryknoll Fathers & Brothers