Achieving gender equality and empowering women and girls - the greatest human rights challenge in our world

International Women’s Day is a time to reflect on progress made, to call for change and to celebrate acts of courage and determination by ordinary women who have played an extraordinary role in the history of their countries and communities.

The activism and advocacy of generations of women has borne fruit. There are more girls in school than ever before; more women are doing paid work and in senior roles in the private sector, academia, politics and in international organizations.

But serious obstacles remain if we are to address the historic power imbalances that underpin discrimination and exploitation. More than a billion women around the world lack legal protection against domestic sexual violence. The global gender pay gap is 23 per cent, rising to 40 per cent in rural areas, and the unpaid work done by many women goes unrecognized. Women’s representation in national parliaments stands, on average, at less than one quarter, and in boardrooms it is even lower.

The current situation of the labor market and welfare across Europe is worrying, as recent reforms by national authorities have led to and could continue resulting in cuts in public funding and reduced social dialogue. Precariousness and job insecurity are two prerequisites for expanding gender inequalities in the society as a whole: women are still paid less than men; the gender pay gap has not narrowed in recent years; despite of high level of education decision making positions at political and economic level are predominantly held by men; glass ceilings that stop women rising up the work hierarchy; glass walls that segregate women into particular jobs; women are not enough represented in decision making positions in trade unions; persistence of domestic violence and violence at workplace; gender stereotypes and disparities; gender inequalities in education; migrant women have fewer opportunities and resources and face multiple discrimination; elderly women have greater risk of poverty.

It is therefore essential to act towards making gender equality a real rather than a rhetorical priority.

At this crucial moment for women’s rights, it is time for men to stand with women, listen to them and learn from them. Transparency and accountability are essential if women are to reach their full potential and lift all of us, in our communities, societies and economies.

The last PERC Women’s Committee meeting has decided to support the ITUC campaign on fighting violence at the workplace and the ETUC campaign on work life balance. Activities are taking place in all PERC region in favor of women’s rights.
We wish you all a Happy Women’s Day and a lot of success in your activities!

PERC Women’s Committee