Today we celebrate International Women’s Day, an historical milestone that evolves around the precious and vital role of women for sustaining and developing our worldwide community.
The first ever Women’s Day recurrence, called National Woman’s Day, was held on February 28, 1909, in New York, and was organized by the Socialist Party of America. A revolutionary move suggested by Theresa Malkiel, a Russian-born American labour activist, suffragist, and educator. Nowadays, since the official recognition by the United Nations in 1975, the International Women’s Day has reached a global formal consensus that still needs to be concretised and developed.
Daily threatened by an obsolete patriarchal and conservative mindset, the needed amelioration of the role of women in our society has reached its expiring date. The international community as well as the collective mobilised social groups are urged to push even further the demolition of bigotry and conservatism, a pitched battle against a voluminous stream of inequality and systemic injustice.
Since part of our advocating work is raising the attention over social deprivation of human rights, today more than ever it is vitally important to give voice to the immense sufferings and ill treatments that our equal human beings are forced to experience, especially within the Middle East and Maghreb areas. The flourishing presence of human rights female groups in the region, however, inspire us to continue the struggle. A good example is the productive mobilisation of the Women Human Rights Defenders Organisation, a self-identified woman and LBTQI community who defends rights and those who are subjected to gender-specific risks and threats due to their human rights work and of their gender identity or sexual orientation.
As for the case of the Arab Peninsula, the clash between authorities and human rights defenders still counts its victims. The key human rights violators, in terms of number and quantity, are the Bahraini and Saudi governments. Bahrain’s body of laws continues to restrict women’s rights in terms of marriage, child custody, transmission of citizenship and keeps on failing to effectively address the plague of gender and domestic violence. In addition to that, both Sunni and Shia women face continuous discrimination in the right to divorce and other civic matters. The statistics of illegally incarcerated female activists keep on rising even in Saudi’s case. In recent times, Ryad’s authorities have implemented formal ameliorations on women conditions, nevertheless, these reforms have slightly improved women’s case, they remain partial and incomplete. A rather scary picture which was remarked on a recent Joint Statement at the 40th Session of the UN Human Right Council presented by H.E. Harald Aspelund. Among other human rights violations, women need a guardian’s permission in order to get married, travel internationally, and be freed from prison. Furthermore, their testimony in court is reportedly worth less than a man’s one.
In both cases we assist at a selective political rhetoric from international actors. Where economy, trade and investments prevail, the respect of human values is put aside, and mostly completely eradicated.
In relation to the human rights agenda, the UN and the European Union share a common goal: fight and push diplomacy towards a veritable inclusion of human values. As declared in a recent statement made by DROI Chair MEP Antonio Panzeri: “Gender equality is at the very heart of human rights and all those addressing gender discrimination should be strongly supported”. Mr. Panzeri progressed “Women human rights defenders must be protected. Every woman who defends human rights should be able to do so without fear of retaliation.”.
The European Centre for Democracy and Human Rights (ECDHR) calls upon the importance of the International Women’s Day. We stand together with all those women who suffer, struggle and fight for a better future and a better and comprehensive world. We feel close to all female activists and not who indeed may be defined as the true backbone of our inconsistent society and along with the international community we pledge our cause to theirs.