Hivos partners mark International Women’s Day, 8 March 2014

March 10, 2014

On March 8, 1908, the first strike by women took place in New York. The strike was directed against the poor working conditions in the textile industry. It was the beginning of a recurrent public demand by women for emancipation and equality, and it has become symbolic for the worldwide celebration of International Women’s Day to date.

On the eve of the 58st Annual Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) held at the United Nations in New York, Hivos’ partners celebrated International Women’s Day. This year’s CSW focuses on the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for women and girls. In the run up towards the CSW and 8 March, Katherine Robinson of Hivos partner Gender Links wrote an interesting article on the International Post2015 development agenda, the follow-up of the MDGs, in which she advocates for voice, choice, control and equality for all.

In relation to ‘voice’ she states that despite the fact that violence against women is again a fundamental theme at the CSW, media still heavily ignore, trivialise and normalise the pandemic proportions of femicide and domestic violence experienced by women across the world.

As for ‘choice and control’, many women worldwide still lack access to sexual and reproductive health and rights. Gender Links and the Southern Africa Gender Alliance are therefore calling for 5050 before 2015 and demanding a strong post-2015 agenda, to end this injustice.

In Iraq-Kurdistan, WADI and the Suleymaniah-based network of women rights organisations protested against ongoing honour killings in the region. Despite the Kurdish Parliament having issued a progressive law against all forms of domestic violence in 2011, police and prosecutors fail to implement it. This has lead to thousands of women in Iraqi-Kurdistan becoming victims of honour killings or honour-related violence.

In Indonesia, the JASS-inspired network Forum Aktivis Perempuan Muda Indonesia (FAMM) or Indonesian Young Women Activist Forum, joined forces with ally organisations to lead a series of activities designed to boost Indonesian women’s participation in politics. Using the unifying theme, “No Democracy Without Women”, FAMM and its allies engaged thousands of people across the country to raise awareness on the importance of women’s leadership and participation in political processes, and to encourage women—especially young women—to vote in the upcoming legislative election (April 9) and presidential election (July 9).

Hivos campaign to change the stereotype

It goes to show that oppression of women still requires worldwide advocacy to change laws and morals to prevent discrimination and protect women against injustices. To this end, the Hivos regional office in Costa Rica has launched an online campaign “Tenía que ser Mujer” (‘It had to be a woman’ or ‘It must have been a woman’) on 8 March 2014.

The campaign uses a saying that is normally used negatively with regard to women and turns it upside down, challenging stereotypes of women with positive and unexpected women role models. Actions will include flashmobs, a ‘technobus’ travelling to different rural communities and a short documentary on the first women soccer players in Costa Rica. You can also follow the campaign on Facebook and Twitter (via ‘See also’ link to website in right sidebar).