Today is International Women's Day

“We cannot all succeed when half of us are held back.” - Malala Yousafzai, female education activist and is the world’s youngest Nobel Prize laureate


Today is International Women's Day, a day that recognizes and raises issues of women's rights, celebrates women's achievements but also draws attention to inequality and the situation of women. The Day is celebrated around the world with various events and celebrations. 

Many countries are organising debates, demonstrations and cultural programmes to fight for equality. The day was born out of historical labour movements and addresses important issues such as women's health choices, violence against women and gender discrimination. Much has been achieved, for example gender equality is at the heart of the UN Sustainable Development Goals and recently France made abortion a constitutional right, but much more needs to be done.

In January, UN Women published figures showing that there are only 13 countries where women hold 50% or more of ministerial positions, and only 26 out of 193 countries are led by women. Two of these are Iceland and Denmark. Women's representation in politics overall is low, with women holding on average 26% of seats in national parliaments. Politically active women are also more likely to face threats and harassment than men.

Increasing the representation of women in politics is associated with legal, gender and economic opportunities and is also a powerful symbol for women and girls worldwide. When it comes to the pay gap, women earn 23% less than men globally and 12.7% less in the EU. This week it was revealed that Sweden has a gender pay gap of 9.9%, meaning that women are effectively working without pay from 4.12pm every day (based on a typical working day from 8am to 5pm). In Germany, the gender pay gap is 18%, with both figures showing stagnation.

According to the 2023 Global Gender Gap Index, no country has achieved full gender parity. The Global Gender Gap Index is a tool developed by the World Economic Forum to measure gender disparities in different countries. It assesses the four main areas: economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, health and survival and political empowerment. Iceland leads the way with 91,2% parity and Norway, Finland, Sweden and Germany have closed at least 80% of the gap.

In our work, we are constantly confronted with these issues. We are actively engaged in addressing these challenges through a series of impactful projects, publications and debates and by looking at our work through a gender perspective, because gender matters. In this context, FES has launched an Instagram account to highlight gender issues: @gendermatters_fes

Everyone, everywhere, can contribute to achieving gender equality.


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