The following is submitted on behalf of Nancy Walker by Melanie Mood, Public Relations Coordinator of Soroptimist International of the Americas. Please contact Melanie with any questions or comments at:
Two Penn Center Plaza, Suite 1000
Philadelphia, PA 19102
On March 8th–International Women’s Day–people the world over will celebrate the unique contributions that women have made to society. Commemorated by the United Nations, this day is an occasion to reflect on progress that women have made in their struggle for equality and acknowledge the challenges that continue to confront them.
Women around the world occupy positions in every conceivable profession. They serve in the upper reaches of government, and participate as policy and peacemakers. Many women enjoy increased access to education, health care and economic opportunity. They enjoy power and influence previously not dreamed of.
Yet, for a great many of the world’s women, International Women’s Day serves as a reminder that they still face serious challenges. There is not one country in the world where women can claim to have the same rights and opportunities as men. And, in many cases, women do not enjoy even the most fundamental of human rights. Consider the following:
· The vast majority of the world’s 1.3 billion absolute poor are women.
· Women are over-represented in low paying jobs including domestic and sweatshop workers.
· On average, women receive between 30 and 40 percent less pay than men for the same work.
· Throughout the world, women continue to endure violence, with rape and domestic violence serving as significant causes of disability and death.
· Even in the most developed countries, women are under-represented in government.
· In both industrialized and developing countries, women lack adequate health care, including pre-and post-natal services.
· Women and girls are regularly forced into sexual trafficking, often in countries far from their own.
· The fastest rising population to become infected with the AIDS virus is women.
· The majority of the world’s refugees are women and their children.
· In many countries of the world, women may not own land.
Right now the world is understandably preoccupied with the specter of war in the Middle East. Maybe the subject of women–their progress and problems–doesn’t seem as pressing. It’s important to remember, though, that should a conflict occur, women and their children will be particularly vulnerable. And, working to solve intractable problems such as poverty and human rights abuses only serves to promote a more peaceful world. There will be no lasting peace or social progress, however, without the full participation of women.
So, on March 8th, a day when we pay tribute to the many accomplishments of women, let us also recognize the work that still needs to be done.
Nancy Walker, President
Soroptimist International of the Americas
Philadelphia, Pa., U.S.A.