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international women's day 2023

Written by Hafsa Ammar 5:25 pm Articles, Current Affairs, Published Content

International Women’s Day 2023: Embrace Equity

8th March or ‘International Women’s Day’ has been deemed a day to honor women all around the world. It is a small reprieve from the remainder of the year and this specific distinction reminds us to pay a little closer attention to the women in our lives. In her piece, Hafsa Ammar discusses this year’s theme, ‘Embrace Equity’, similar to that of last year’s ‘Accelerate Equity’.
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About the Author(s)
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Hafsa Ammar is a graduate of the National Defence University, Islamabad. Her areas of expertise are narrative building and propaganda warfare, centered around the Soviet Union and modern-day Russia.

Introduction

8th March or ‘International Women’s Day’ helps remind people to go beyond just celebrating their wives, daughters, sisters, and mothers; rather encourage and empower them to make strides in their respective fields. There is also a focus on intellectual and socio-economic contributions made by women in every field be it politics, law, science, math, or art. Their impact and influences are often overlooked during the shuffle to deem them solely caretakers and homemakers.

The concept of International Women’s Day was proposed approximately hundred and ten years ago by Clara Zetkin, a German women’s rights activist who recognized the importance of such an occasion. The day shines a spotlight on not only achievements by women but also calls for awareness in regard to gender parity and equality. It is celebrated all around the globe in a variety of ways, from parades, festivals, and award ceremonies to charities, marches, and rallies.

International Women’s Day 2023: Equality vs Equity

A lot of international platforms have started using the term ‘equity’ in place of ‘equality’ and there is a solid reasoning behind it that showcases the status of women in society. Equality talks about equal resource distribution to all members of society which when considered in a primarily patriarchal society turns out to be a little disadvantageous to women.

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Equity, on the other hand, talks about allocating necessary resources to people at every level for even-paced progress. Vulnerable factions of society are given more aid and funding to bring them to the same level of socioeconomic security as the rest.

The theme of International Women’s Day 2023 underlines embracing equity to elaborate on the fact that nowadays there are multiple avenues and opportunities available for most women to progress in life, but their starting lines and obstacles vary – these are the root causes that need to be addressed for a collaborative path towards peace.

International Initiatives for Women’s Rights

On 24th October, 1945, the UN Charter came into existence and brought with it a manual on how to reduce discrimination on the basis of sex, race, caste, language, and creed. Concepts of gender equality are enmeshed in the guiding principles of the UN. Chapter III of the Charter talks about membership while Article 8 further narrows down on the idea and details that the United Nations places no gendered restrictions on anyone who wishes to participate and work under its mandate.

Chapter XV The Secretariat, Article 101 states that any potential candidate or member of staff is only judged upon their work ethic, merit, and capability. Their gender would not be factored into their employment status. The charter sets a precedent for all others to follow. Rather than viewing women as a weak segment of society and placing them in a box, such a ‘merit-based’ approach respects their individuality.

The following year brought the formation of the Commission on Status of Women or the CSW, made by the United Nations Economic and Social Council. Its core purpose was to serve as a policy-making body with a special focus on the empowerment of women and gendered justice. The commission worked across a broad spectrum, guaranteeing social, economic, and political rights for women, but it didn’t stop there. It covered other important aspects as well, such as women’s access to education and fair employment.

The CSW also made sure to focus on women under disastrous circumstances such as post-conflict and environmental distress. The commission is holding its 67th Session from 6th-17th March 2023. The CSW has led to the drafting of several international conventions for women’s rights and made waves for gender equality across several decades. These include the 1953 Convention on the Political Rights of Women, the 1962 Convention on Consent to Marriage, the infamous 1995 Beijing Declaration, and many more.

The December of 1979 saw the formation of another platform by the UNGA known as the ‘Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women’ (CEDAW). The treaty came into force in 1981 and is referred to as the ‘international bill of rights for women’. It details the legality surrounding the reduction of gender discrimination and has been adopted by 189 state governments.

Role of Women

Any prosperous state requires equal participation from all of its constituents to progress. Women make up around half of the world’s population, approximately 3.9 billion. States are similarly constructed with almost half of the population being female. If half the population is being oppressed one way or another and facing difficulties in every avenue of life, that will be detrimental to the state in its entirety.

Female involvement in the working class has been shown to bring stability and improvement in social and economic circles. The McKinsey Global Institute issued a report on gender parity and economic freedom which had the shocking conclusion that just introducing the mass human capital that women possess into paid labor structures can increase the global GDP by twelve trillion dollars approximately.

It has also been researched and statistically proven that the involvement of women in peace processes and conflict negotiations has led to more successful agreements and durable peace. Their participation increases the chances of a peace treaty being more effective. However, despite their bold feats, women only made up fourteen percent of global conflict negotiators in the years between 2015 and 2019. Even fewer end up as signatories to important treaties and agreements.

The participation of women in community courts and councils is imperative for homegrown peace. They are frontline advocates for weaker segments of society and act as bridge-builders and peacemakers. There is a desperate need for awareness, accessibility, and inclusivity, and the 2023 International Women’s Day theme intends to do just that.

Investment in women-led and owned entrepreneurial ventures, employment opportunities, skill development trainings, and academic research are all ways to make space for women in society. Unpaid labor should be stopped and strict legal action should be taken to eliminate gender-based violence from society. A broad-spectrum approach to involve, celebrate, and empower women requires a two-pronged solution – removal of obstacles at a grassroots level and space made for the forthcoming development of women.


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The views and opinions expressed in this article/paper are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial position of Paradigm Shift.

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