Geneva, March 8, 2019 – As we celebrate International Women’s Day, I would like to honour the generations of women and girls who have transformed our societies by defending human rights and demanding equality – often in the face of daunting challenges and great personal sacrifice.
Thanks to the tireless work of such human rights defenders in all corners of the globe, in recent decades, we have seen remarkable progress with respect to women’s rights. Just in the past six months, in Ethiopia, Tunisia, Costa Rica and the United States, among other countries, women have taken on important political posts and openly advocate for women´s empowerment and gender equality. In the last decade, the participation of women in the global labour force has grown to around 49 percent. Maternal mortality has steeply fallen in countries like India. These are concrete advances, but there is still much more to be done. It is so important that laws and policies are drafted with the meaningful involvement of those most affected by it – women from various walks of life, including those from minority groups, indigenous communities, those who are poor, with disabilities, the elderly and the youth.
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I recognise the courage and determination of women worldwide who have launched powerful social movements and continued to dare to speak out about the violence they have suffered – #MeToo, #Ibelieveher, #NiUnaMenos, #cuentalo, #noustoutes, #balancetonporc and so many more. Today, on International Women’s Day, I am issuing an urgent call to governments, legislators and judiciaries around the world to build on the momentum of the social movements against gender-based violence. Entrenched gender biases create major hurdles for women’s access to justice and redress, and it is crucial that judges and police officers, among others, are trained so that unconscious bias does not get in the way of protection and justice for women.
I pay tribute to those who are today on the frontlines to win hearts and minds – against cruelty, discrimination and violence.
On International Women’s Day and always, we – and especially the men and women among us with the power and influence to make a difference – need to stand with the women human rights defenders who are leading the struggle for a more equal and just world. The power of our collective voices should never be underestimated.
#IStandWithHer. Do you?
Happy International Women’s Day.