Have we seen progress since International Women’s Day 2013?

Every year, International Women’s Day is celebrated around the world on 8 March. Its roots can be traced back to the 1909 New York garment workers’ strike but it has now grown to become a day when people march, party, lobby, debate, create and mobilise in the name of women’s rights and gender equality across the world.

This year, the United Nations has taken the theme ‘Equality for women is progress for all’ to emphasise ‘how gender equality, empowerment of women, women’s full enjoyment of human rights and the eradication of poverty are essential to economic and social development.’ Gender equality and the post-2015 development framework is a major talking point as campaigners, policy makers and politicians converge on New York for the Commission on the Status of Women from Monday 10 March. As we build up to the event, the BRIDGE team has been looking back at some of the major developments for women’s rights and gender equality since the last International Women’s Day:

One development issue that has gained more recognition over the past year is unpaid care work, including a UN special rapporteur on unpaid care work and women’s rights launched in October 2013.

In more local development news, the UK is waiting for royal ascent on a bill which forces its government to consider the impact of its international aid spending on reducing gender inequality.

In Zambia traditional chiefs have been taking a leading role in combating child marriage. Campaigners have congratulated chiefs such as Chief Chiwala of the Lamba people who reportedly retrieved eight girls aged between 15 and 17 years old after they were married off by their parents.

In April 2013 the results of a University of Michigan study showed a positive shift in global attitudes towards domestic violence. For example in Nigeria, 65 per cent of men and 52 per cent of women rejected domestic violence in 2008, compared with 48 per cent and 33 percent in 2003.

In less positive news, progress in gay rights have been set back in some places: In December 2013, India’s Supreme Court reinstated a ban on gay sex between consenting adults after the high court decriminalised it in 2009. In Uganda a bill was passed in February 2014 to make homosexuality punishable with life imprisonment and Russia’s anti-gay laws and other human rights controversies provoked calls for a boycott of the Sochi Winter Olympics.

Women’s rights activists have continued to make the headlines including in Saudi Arabia where, in October 2013, women defied a ban on driving. In June 2013, US senator Wendy Davis performed a 13-hour filibuster against a bill to further restrict abortion access in her state of Texas. The law continues to be challenged by campaigners.

What have we missed? Get in touch via Twitter @bridge_ids.

Photo: Melanie Cook, under a Creative Commons License.