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Eleonora Esposito, Marie Curie Researcher, Institute for Culture and Society, University of Navarra, Spain

The three souls of International Women's Day

Sun, 08 Mar 2020 09:58:00 +0000 Posted in group Vocento


For many women around the world, 2019 has been another record-breaking year in the fight against gender inequality. As such, this 8M is often seen as a day to celebrate the many achievements of women and their increasing presence in many areas where men have traditionally dominated.

In 2019, women have broken the glass ceiling in major European institutions: Ursula von der Leyen was appointed president of the European Commission and Christine Lagarde was the first woman elected to head the European Central Bank. In Finland, Sanna Marin broke records on all fronts as the world's youngest woman prime minister in a five-party government led by women.

While women are making their way for equal opportunities and representation in STEM sciences, the world was able to see the first image of a black hole, precisely, thanks to the work of a woman: Katie Bouman, a 29-year-old American student of doctorate , and her team created the algorithm that led to the image of a supermassive black hole in the Messier 87 galaxy.

2019 was also the year in which the world realized that women also play soccer. The 8th edition of the Women's World Cup, held in France, broke world records for interest and viewership. While lifting the World Cup, captain Meghan Rapinoe and her U.S. team used the occasion to call for equal pay for the same work, as well as conditions and investment similar to those of the men's national team.

However, 8M is still a day to be commemorated. commemorate that, once again, the tragedy of gender-based violence has made daily international headlines, before fading away from the public report . Violence is still a real concern for millions of women globally: women and girls are victims of child marriage and sold for dowry in India, Bangladesh and around South Asia. Women also make up 97% of the victims of human trafficking and sexual exploitation, a global emergency that often involves very young and vulnerable girls struggling to survive and facing situations of extreme poverty or armed conflict.

Although it may be tempting to think that gender violence is a distant and 'third world' problem, 2019 has also been the year in which the issue of femicides in Spain has reached the shocking round figure of 1,000 victims. Women murdered by their husbands, brothers, fathers and relatives that have been registered (increasingly) in Spain since 2003, although it is estimated that the figures may be higher.

Above all, we must remember that 8M is a day to keep moving forward. to keep moving forward. From time to time, someone announces that the struggle for gender equality is over, that they have already achieved their goals and should withdraw their demands from the public sphere. Nothing could be further from the truth. The challenges are still urgent and plentiful in 2020, a crucial year for the global gender equality movement as it celebrates the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action.

Adopted in 1995 at the Fourth World Conference on Women in China, lecture , it is considered the world's most visionary roadmap for the empowerment of women and girls. Unfortunately, in the 12 critical areas identified in Beijing - covering poverty and violence, access to healthcare, Education and decision-making, among others - progress toward full equality has been slow and uneven.

If the bequest of 8M remains impregnated by the battle for equality, this element of struggle has gained renewed importance in recent years. In the Western world, where equality and respect for all citizens are taken for granted, we are still surprised by the emergence of new movements that threaten women's fundamental freedoms.

Intersectionality is the word of order (or, rather, disorder) that should mark progress since Beijing 1995. From marches for women everywhere in the world to the proliferation and impact of movements like #MeToo and #NiUnaMenos, women are called to change broader systems of oppression, violence and discrimination globally. 

With the power and voice of feminist movements shaking Hollywood and the White House, the next challenge is to recognize the intricate interactions between every form of bigotry and inequality as we engage in solidarity and action, challenging stereotypes, fighting bias and broadening perceptions to be truly inclusive.