8 March 2017: International Women's Day

By Francisca Sauquillo, SOLIDAR President

1975 was declared to be International Women’s Year by the United Nations. From then onward the 8th March has been set as International Women’s Day.

Before and after that date, many initiatives, policies and regulations at all levels have been established under principles of equality of opportunities and political, social and economic rights. However today in 2017, 42 years after the establishment of 8th March as International Day, the reality is still far from the goals:

  • About 50% of people living in poor households are women and girls.
  • At the global level 35% of women suffered physical or sexual violence at the hands of their partners or sexual violence carried out by someone who was not their partner.
  • 79% of the people exploited sexually are women and girls.
  • A third of the women are forced to get married before the age of 18.
  • In the labour market, women earn 24% less than men and almost a 75% of them work unprotected in developing countries.
  • Every day at least 12 women die in Latin American and the Caribbean just because of being a woman (Femicide).
  • Half of the refugees and displaced are women and children suffering double discrimination by reason of gender.
  • Women represent two third of the 792 million of illiterate people in the world.

These data are not just numbers; they are human beings in different countries, cultures and societies just one thing in common: being female.

…and Europe does not escape from these inequalities. Due to this reality we cannot be neutral. As civil society we have to give a global response, to give a voice to women and act to achieve the equality and equity between women and men (gender justice). The SOLIDAR network is active defending women rights and the preventing gender-based violence and sexual exploitation.

This objective will not be attainable without women participation. Women should be recognised as legitimate rights holders in the whole process from needs detection to decision-making.

This year we will commemorate on 8th of March those women who were, are and will be protagonists of the defense of the rights obtained, reaching new demands and fighting against those laws that discriminate against women or that reject the principle of equality. This year, several strikes in about 35 countries will take place in parallel with the International Women’s Strike, the women’s strike in Poland, against the abortion ban, the women’s strikes and marches in Latin America, against male violence; From the vast women’s demonstration of last November in Italy to the protests and the women’s strike in defense of reproductive rights in South Korea and Ireland among others.

SOLIDAR is proud to have since 2015 a first female President, Francisca “Paquita” Sauquillo, feminist (see her book "through the eyes of women", 2000) and human rights defender. As lawyer she has been active already in the fight against the Franco dictatorship and later for the transition of Spain towards democracy. She was member of the regional Parliament of Madrid and Senator from 1983-1994, Member of the European Parliament from 1994-2004. Since 1985 she is President of our Spanish member organisation Movement for Peace, Disarmament and Freedom (MPDL). Since May 2016 she chairs the Commission on the history and memory of the city of Madrid.



Photo © UN Photo/Ky Chung