March 8, 2021 / Source: The Bizz USA
By Malita Zara Ali; Edited by Adya Kumar and Haarika Kalahasti
This year’s theme of international women’s day (IWD) is “Women in Leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world”. This theme highlights how women and young girls can and will overcome the gender inequality living in these challenging times. The theme is also aligned to the Commission Status of Women, “Women’s full and effective participation and decision-making in public life, as well as the elimination of violence, for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls”.
The IWD movement began in 1908, when more than 15,000 women took to the streets of New York to protest against the working conditions and exploitation of women (working hours, better pay, and voting rights). In 1909, the Socialist Party of America announced a National Women’s Day to honor the day of the strike, and by 1910, IWD became global. During the first IWD rally held in Europe in 1911, more than 1 million people attended.
Flashforward more than a century, things have surely changed, especially due to the massive, global pandemic. “The COVID-19 pandemic, also known as the coronavirus pandemic, is an ongoing pandemic caused by the transmission of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) which was first identified in December 2019 in Wuhan, China. The outbreak was declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern in January 2020 and a pandemic in March 2020”.
Problems Women face due to COVID-19:
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a drastic increase in domestic violence against women and children. Many of these women and children are now trapped at home with their abusers and are at increased risk of other forms of abuse, as overloaded healthcare systems and disrupted justice services struggle to respond. As a result of lockdown and restriction of movement a vast majority of people are now spending more time on the internet, which can also lead to an increase in cyber-bullying in chat rooms and gaming platforms.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had detrimental effects on our health, social and economy. From as subtle as the fact that masks (which are said to be of a standard one-size fits all) are actually designed and sized for men, leaving women at greater risk of exposure to this deadly disease, we see the issues start to arise. Globally, women make up 70% of the healthcare workforce and are leading the health response. This means that the majority are at greater risks of infection. At the same time, women are shouldering much of the burden at home. Furthermore, the sad reality is that women are still paid less than their male counterparts and hold fewer leadership positions in the health sector.
Around the world, women earn less and save less, as the majority of single-parent households hold more insecure jobs in the economy. For many families, school closure and social distancing measures have increased the unpaid care and domestic workload of women at home. This situation is worse in developing economies, where a large share of people are employed in the informal sectors, in which they do not have access to medical insurance, paid sick leave, and more. Awareness of the world and the beauty of entrepreneurship can help solve economic problems by providing a platform for women to earn an income from baked goods, a selection of tantalizing dishes and extraordinary hand-man crafts such as mats, bags, etc.
To conclude, International Women’s Day (IWD) is a day to celebrate the journey women around the world have taken towards equality and a better future. Girl power is key during these challenging times, as it is important to encourage each other for better self-esteem. The fight for women’s rights and equality is not over yet, but if we as women stand together in solidarity, we will surely make it out of the battlefield. Stay strong and we are all very proud of each and every one of you! Happy International Women’s Day!