Women, gender and equality: March towards progress

16 November 2008

Principles of equality are fully enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 10 November 1948. Member
countries publicize the Declaration which is disseminated, displayed, read and expounded principally in schools and other institutions regardless of the country or region’s political status.

The Declaration is available in hundreds of languages and sets the Guinness World Record for the "Most Translated Document". New technology increasingly provides us with a window on the vast panorama of the multi-faceted and multi-layered picture of action at the grass roots level, to the level of the individual and collective, in the march towards progress.

Within the UN system and its agencies, major departments and programmes have been established to promote studies about women, gender and equality that will lead to equal opportunity for women universally in political, social and economic fields. In particular, the Office of the High Commission for Human Rights (OCHR), in Geneva, is a UN central organ. Its mission is to protect human rights for all.

International Women’s Day (IWD)

1975 was declared International Women’s Year by the United Nations. It helped focus attention and harness the energy of the world’s governments, local, national and international institutions in the march towards progress.

International Women’s Day is held on 8 March each year. Thousands of events, formal and informal, take place around the world that aim to inspire women and celebrate their achievements. Many large-scale initiatives provide a rich and diverse fabric of local activity that brings women from all fields of life together in celebration. These events range from political rallies, academic, business and other conferences, government activities and networking events through to women’s craft fairs, theatrical performances and fashion parades. Global corporations also actively support International Women’s Day by running their own events and through supporting external ones.

March towards progress

In 2007, Violence against Women is the theme chosen by the United Nations to bring the world’s attention to the need for vigilance and urgent action in the march towards progress. Social and political literature continues to document the enormous suffering of millions of women who are victims of domestic or institutionalised violence, contravening their basic human rights. In both peace-time and war-torn situations women and children are chosen as targets for organised large-scale atrocities, including sexual abuse.

With thousands of social activists and political militants, on International Women’s Day this year women and men around the world will unite and demonstrate against these atrocities in the march towards progress.

Note: All sources of information used are acknowledged in preparation of this article. It follows a published text, with acknowledgements, entitled Women, gender and equality: Biblical, historical and contemporary perspective, by Ita Marguet (March 2005).

Ita Marguet