International Women’s Day

8 March is recognized by the United Nations System as the International Women’s Day.

In ideal world, I suppose that we do not need such a day to focus specially on women. Unfortunately, in many parts of the world, developing countries, post-conflict countries and even developed countries, women are more exposed to violence, ignorance, and are deprived of their basic human rights.

It is not only one day of the year that we need to be reminded of this but I would like to propose you to take this occasion to exchange opinions, to report on the current situation that women are facing in the Arab world and to propose action that the Network can take.

Please send your thoughts on this issue to out network.

Message from Ms Irina Bokova,
Director-General of UNESCO

On the occasion of the International Women’s Day

Too often marginalised, women living in rural settings face steep challenges to the exercise of their human rights, their personal development and the pursuit of their aspirations. Across the world, this is weakening societies and holding back their development. Tackling this problem is the goal of the 2012 International Women’s Day.

In studies of progress towards the Millennium Development Goals, rural women fare consistently worse than rural men, as well as urban women and men, on every indicator for which there is data. Education provides stark illustration. Girls from rural areas are far less likely to go to school than either rural boys or urban boys and girls. Women make up two thirds of the world’s 796 million illiterate people, many of whom live in rural areas.

The fate of rural women is a serious challenge and a core development issue. The stakes are high, and they are often overlooked. At the local level, women play a key role in supporting their households and communities to achieve food security, to generate income, and to improve their livelihoods. Rural women are key actors in agriculture and rural enterprises, helping to fuel both local and global economies. They are also custodians of the indigenous and traditional knowledge that is vital for developing more sustainably and responding to climate change. UNESCO acts to support the empowerment of girls and women across the world. Our new Global Partnership for Girls’ and Women’s Education seeks to improve access to secondary education and to bolster literacy — with a focus on girls and women in rural areas.

We work with partners in civil society and the private sector to take this forward. With the Barefoot College, for instance, we are training illiterate rural women – starting in Africa — to become local entrepreneurs in solar technology. We are promoting community radio in order to provide rural women with access to knowledge and support. We are bolstering the role played by women as holders of local and indigenous knowledge and as both agents of change and social cohesion. The rights of rural women must be protected, and their aspirations must be supported. International Women’s Day is a chance for all to take a stand against this form of discrimination and marginalisation that weakens all of our societies.

Irina Bokova


About Orio Ikebe

Since 2007 Orio Ikebe is a focal point for UNESCO's Bioethics and Ethics of Science and Technology projects in the Arab Region working in the UNESCO Cairo Office.
This entry was posted in Awareness raising and advocacy, others, Right of women, Scientific community and women, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to International Women’s Day

  1. Pingback: International Women’s Day |

  2. Moderator says:

    By Prof. Nagwa Abdel Meguid, Professor of Human Genetics at National Research Centre
    Cairo, Egypt

    Happy women’s day for all women in the world. We dreamed the female spring for equality and democracy. It shows that the parliament with its power dynamics impedes women from achieving a substantial political empowerment. Women in Post-Mubarak: One Step Forward or Two Steps Back? Many women’s gains obtained were subsequently lost.
    Although much of the available research on gender has been publicized in the form of reports or as master and Ph.D. theses and journal articles we believe that there was a need to make all these important works better known to scholars within the Arab region . Thanks to ICT mediated spaces to have space and time, where ideas can flow and mingle in the air right where we are.

  3. Thanks Laurine Pierre for this soft reminder of our moral obligations towards women in our region. By any means or measures, the situation of the Arab women is less than satisfactory. Many factors led to growing disparities and discrepancies between men and women, and younger women are more prone to that.
    As I have suggested from the very beginning of this network, we need to raise awareness and advocate for women’s rights, at least in health. We need to train and campaign among professionals working with women whether in big cities or rural areas.

  4. Moderator says:

    By: Dr. Sara Ahmed Hanafy, Health Research Program Officer at the Alexandria Regional Centre for Women’s Health and Development, Alexandria, Egypt

    On the occasion of the International Women Day I would like to share with you this opinion:

    Women are increasingly subjected to marginalization not only during conflicts, but following these conflicts and during peace time disproportionately in relation to men.Their vulnerability impacts their families, communities and societies. The issue of challenges facing women in the Arab region is one that concerns all women in different countries after what is described now by the Arabic Spring .

    Convinced of the necessity of gender mainstreaming in all fields , we need to highlight the key challenges facing us taking in consideration that the scientific approach being the best way to tackle problems. In my view, increasing the advocacy for gender equity in education, culture and human rights conditions is key cornerstones to start our renewal pathway. Nevertheless, we should keep into account the urgent need to integrate this advocacy with the mass communication technologies which were proved as key factor in changing mentalities and socities.

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