Today lots of messages arrive in my mailbox, congratulating me with International Women’s Day. It makes me think about last year when I was in Afghanistan. Yeah, International Women’s Day is celebrated everywhere, even in Afghanistan. All the women working in the mission were invited for coffee, tea and cakes.
The Head of Mission was so nice to give each of us a present, a headscarf! It was very much welcomed by most women and some negotiations ensued, to swap the nicest ones. It was a nice day.
Thinking of it still upsets me, International Women’s Day isn’t about having a nice day. It is not a bit like Mother’s Day. And it certainly isn’t about nice scarves to cover a women up!
Women all over the world perform 66 per cent of the world’s work and produce 50 per cent of its food, but earn only 10 per cent of its income and own one per cent of its property!
International Women’s Day is a time to celebrate women and all their achievements, but also to highlight what still needs to change. Last year the Head of Mission asked me to say something to those gathered, as I was so committed to the women’s cause. I told everybody the facts about the women’s productivity and the lack of income and asked him to hire more women in the mission (only 10 percent were women out of 400).
Of course everybody applauded and then the cakes were given to the men standing outside. I am happy to see the celebration was different this year. The EU celebrated on 8 March in Kabul International Women’s Day and the contribution of Afghan women to arts, sports and society in presence of international and national guests with performances from Afghan female athletes and musicians. – See more at: http://www.eupol-afg.eu/?q=node/431
While it is easy to condemn the inequality in Afghanistan, there is still much to worry about in European countries. A new report by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) presents results from the world’s biggest-ever survey on violence against women, revealing the extent of abuse suffered by women at home, work, in public and online. As well as demonstrating the wide prevalence of violence against adult women, the report also details incidents of physical and sexual violence experienced by women in childhood. The survey shows that policy makers need to recognise the extent of violence against women, and ensure that responses meet the needs and rights of all victims of violence against women in practice and not only on paper.
Some major findings: 33% of women have experienced physical and/or sexual violence since the age of 15. That corresponds to 62 million women. 22% have experienced physical and/or sexual violence by a partner. 5% of all women have been raped. Almost one in 10 women who have experienced sexual violence by a non-partner, indicate that more than one perpetrator was involved in the most serious incident. 43% have experienced some form of psychological violence by either a current or a previous partner, such as public humiliation; forbidding a woman to leave the house or locking her up; forcing her to watch pornography; and threats of violence. More and full report: http://fra.europa.eu/en/publication/2014/vaw-survey-main-results
Governments and society at large should realize this violence is massive and unacceptable. Sign, ratify the Istanbul convention now! Don’t use the technicalities as an excuse to not to sign, like they do in the Netherlands. Which country is so liberal but still is almost on top of the list of percentage of women violated. The report makes it abundantly clear, women all over the world live in a unsafe society . It is great we have already a UWE project concerning Violence against Educated Women in place! Please participate all when you are asked to fill in the questionnaire!
So no congratulations, no coffee and no cakes on International Women’s Day, we demand a safe society for all!