By By Ashiknaz Khokhar
International Women’s Day (IWD) was first celebrated in 1975 by UNO. Historically this idea was proposed in 1910 by a lady Clara Zetkin, when she was addressing an international women’s conference in Copenhagen where 100 women from 17 countries unanimously agreed to her proposal. It was a time when women were getting the right to vote. At that time they raised their voice for shorter work hours and for better salaries.
Every year, United Nations chooses the theme to celebrate Women’s Day and they focus on that specific theme to work throughout the year ahead. This year, the United Nations’ theme for IWD is ‘Gender Equality today for a Sustainable tomorrow’. The theme recognizes the contribution of women and girls around the world, who are leading the charge on climate change adaptation, mitigation, and response, to build a more sustainable future for all.
This day is globally celebrated for women where we observe organizations and governments making efforts for gender equality by encouraging partcipation of women in politics, economics and therefore strengthing our cultures. The total population of females in the world is around 3.905 billion which is accounts to 49.58% of the total world population according to the statistics of World Times.
As the world is becoming a global village and we see that many things are developing rapidly, but it is a fact that even in the 21st century women are facing the same issues which they had faced for centuries. Slavery, violence, torture, low wages, under age marriages, honor killings, forced conversion, harassment in work places, less public spaces for girls, less job chances, health facilities, poverty and education are the issues which today’s women are facing.
Pope Francis has strongly condemned violence against women, saying in his New Year’s Day homily that: “To hurt a woman is to insult God.” How much violence is directed against women! Enough! To hurt a woman is to insult God, who from a woman took on our humanity,” the pontiff said.
“Women who, seeing with the heart, can combine dreams and aspirations with concrete reality, without drifting into abstraction and sterile pragmatism.” He added that mothers “Know how to overcome obstacles and disagreements, and to instill peace.”
“In this way, they transform problems into opportunities for rebirth and growth. They can do this because they know how to ‘keep’, to hold together the various threads of life.”
Pope Francis for the first time in the history of the Catholic Church has appointed a woman Sr. Nathalie Becquert to the senior post of undersecretary in the Vatican and which empowers her the right to vote in the next Synod of Bishops. She will be the first female in the Catholic Church who will vote with Bishops.
Liberal Catholics who are working for positive changes within Church also raising their voices on this special day to make our Church inclusive especially by giving more posts within our Church to women. As Saint Paul said: “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:38).