In 1975, during International Women’s Year, the United Nations began celebrating 8 March as International Women’s Day. Two years later, in December 1977, the General Assembly adopted a resolution proclaiming a United Nations Day for Women’s Rights and International Peace to be observed on any day of the year by Member States, in accordance with their historical and national traditions. For the United Nations, International Women’s Day has been observed on 8 March since 1975. The Day is traditionally marked with a message from the Secretary-General.
The Theme for International Women’s Day 2011 is:
Equal access to education, training and science and technology: Pathway to decent work for women
The UN website states that:“ In adopting its resolution on the observance of Women’s Day, the General Assembly cited two reasons: to recognize the fact that securing peace and social progress and the full enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms require the active participation, equality and development of women; and to acknowledge the contribution of women to the strengthening of international peace and security. For the women of the world, the Day’s symbolism has a wider meaning: It is an occasion to review how far they have come in their struggle for equality, peace and development. It is also an opportunity to unite, network and mobilize for meaningful change.” (internationalwomensday.com/theme/)
The potential of Women and Girls across the globe, when unfettered by violence, the lack of access to personal freedoms or the ability to act as agents of change in their own lives, is indisputable.
IFSW is pleased to have adopted an International Policy on Women which states:
5.1 Women’s rights are human rights. To the extent that women and girls do not enjoy equal rights, their common human needs, and those of their families, will not be fully met and their human potential will not be fully realized. Therefore, the social work profession’s core commitment to human rights must involve a commitment to protecting and preserving the basic rights of all women and girls. Women of all ages and at all stages of the life cycle deserve protection from discrimination in all forms, including the elimination of all forms of gender-specific discrimination and violence.
5.2 IFSW endorses the platform statement adopted by the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women. IFSW recognizes that global progress toward peace and social development requires attention to all the areas of critical concern described in the platform statement.
5.3 IFSW stresses and affirms the core commitment of the social work profession to human rights, human welfare, peace, and the enhancement of the human potential and well-being of all people as well as from its mission of service to those from vulnerable, oppressed, and disadvantaged groups.
5.4 IFSW and its member organizations will work to advocate for development of policies, implementation of programs, and social action to improve the well-being of women of all ages. This work can be effective only if the special needs and contributions of indigenous, migrant, displaced, and poor women are emphasized.
5.5 IFSW recognizes that policies and programmes designed to eliminate poverty and to promote the economic well-being of all people will not succeed without attention to gender discrimination in economic arrangements, in the workplace, in the household, and in social and economic policies and programs themselves.
5.6 IFSW will work to improve the health status of women of all ages. Social workers are commonly involved in the delivery of women’s health care, including maternal and child health, mental and behavioral health care services, and sexual and reproductive health care, including the care and prevention of HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases. Improving the health and well-being of women requires attention to physical, mental, emotional, and social well-being and the provision of gender-sensitive prevention, intervention, and long-term care services.
5.7 IFSW endorses women’s self-determination in all health care decisions as a core professional value, including all decisions regarding sexual activity and reproduction. Social workers understand that women have the right to receive competent and safe reproductive and sexual health care services free from government, institutional, professional, familial, or other interpersonal limitation or coercion.
5.8 IFSW recognizes that social workers involved in schools and in adult education and training and literacy efforts must attend to gender issues as they affect the education and training of girls and women of all ages.
5.9 IFSW affirms that social work’s commitment to children and youths and their families must include attention to the risks associated with being a girl.
5.10 IFSW supports the full participation of women in all decision-making bodies and processes that affect the political, economic, social, educational, and health concerns of women and girls. This commitment includes full participation in the profession, education for the profession, social agencies, and other social services delivery systems.
5.11 IFSW supports indigenous, grass-roots, and professional organizations of all kinds that seek to empower diverse women and girls in all sectors of society.
5.12 IFSW recognizes the need to expand the social work knowledge base and improve the skills of professional social workers as they relate to the needs of women and girls, especially those from indigenous, poor, migrant, displaced groups, and any other groups also disadvantaged in their own national, social or cultural contexts. www.ifsw.org/p38000218.html
IFSW joins with our sister organizations around the world in marking the economic, political and social achievements of women while at the same time acknowledging how much there is yet to do in the fight for women’s full and equal access and equality.
In Solidarity –
Gary Bailey, MSW, ACSW
8 March 2011