International Women's Day is a time in which citizens, governments and institutions are encouraged to reaffirm their commitment to gender equality and celebrate the accomplishments made throughout history for women's rights. This year's theme, "Women in the Changing World of Work: Planet 50-50 by 2030," is a specific call to action for women's equality in every kind of workplace, everywhere in the world.
Despite more possibilities for women in the world of work through technological advances and globalization, UN Women reports that 50 per cent of working age women are represented in the global workforce, in contrast to 76 per cent of men. Out of this number, women are overwhelmingly represented in the lower-paid services industry at 61.5 per cent compared to making up just 4 per cent of Fortune 500 CEOs and 23 per cent of seats in parliament.
According to a report on gender equality by the World Bank in 2016, in 100 economies, women face gender-based job restrictions. The same report states that out of 173 countries, 114 have provisions in place covering sexual harassment in employment.
Research conducted recently by the UN's Economic and Social Council shows that women disproportionately bear the burden of unpaid care and domestic work, which is estimated to make up 10 to 39 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), although not commonly included in its calculation.
These statistics make it clear that women still face obstacles from deeply ingrained sexism in societies, which inhibit their ability to fully participate—if at all—in the economic sphere.
Economic empowerment is a key factor in ensuring women and girls realize their potential across the globe. Changes need to be made through polices and public services to achieve gender equality within the workforce and to recognize and protect women for care and domestic work.
The need for change does not stop at economic empowerment, however.
Gender Equality is Goal 5 of the UN's Sustainable Development Goals for 2030. Major targets of the 2030 agenda relevant to Goal 5 include ending harmful practices such as forced and child marriages and female genital mutilation, as well as ensuring reproductive rights and universal access to sexual and reproductive healthcare. Accomplishing these objectives will guarantee that more women and girls can participate in society as free individuals.
Around the world, women continually have to fight for their fundamental rights. In some cases, their gains are being repealed and restricted. When a woman or girl is denied her rights, she is denied the chance for fulfillment and the chance to realize her potential. This is an injustice and one that excludes an entire body of people from contributing to global growth.
In order to create a better world for women and girls, the commitment to gender equality must extend past this one day. Parents must ensure their girls grow up knowing they are as capable and valued as boys are. Men must acknowledge the women around them as equals. The changing world of work must be one that provides equal opportunities for women.
Women's rights are human rights. We all must do our part to protect and uphold the rights of women and girls, now and for the future.