Thursday, March 08, 2007

International Women's Day

It is March 8th so it's International Women's Day. As they say, we've come a long way, baby. But there is still much farther to go. It's easy to measure where we are as women in terms of what we experience. Work and pay inequality, the lack of more women in political roles, and violence against women are some of the key issues the women of Canada have to deal with. But it's the international part of International Women's Day that make us think about the issues of women all over the world. And there are plenty. Sometimes we need some stats to make the point so here are some.

From Amnesty International:

  • At least one out of every three women has been beaten, coerced into sex, or abused in her lifetime. This figure comes from a study based on 50 surveys from around the world.

  • Every year, millions of women are raped by partners, relatives, friends and strangers, by employers and colleagues, soldiers and members of armed groups.

  • Violence in the family is endemic all over the world; the overwhelming majority of victims are women and girls. In the USA, for example, women account for around 85 per cent of the victims of domestic violence.

  • The World Health Organization has reported that up to 70 per cent of female murder victims are killed by their male partners.

  • Small arms and light weapons are the main tools of almost every conflict. Women and children account for nearly 80% of the casualties, according to the UN Secretary-General

And from the UN:

  • Violence against women is the most common but least punished crime in the world.

  • It is estimated that between 113 million and 200 million women are demographically "missing." They have been the victims of infanticide (boys are preferred to girls) or have not received the same amount of food and medical attention as their brothers and fathers.

  • The number of women forced or sold into prostitution is estimated worldwide at anywhere between 700,000 and 4,000,000 per year. Profits from sex slavery are estimated at seven to twelve billion US dollars per year.

  • Globally, women between the age of fifteen and forty-four are more likely to be maimed or die as a result of male violence than through cancer, malaria, traffic accidents or war combined.

  • At least one out of every three women has been beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused in her lifetime. Usually, the abuser is a member of her own family or someone known to her. Domestic violence is the largest form of abuse of women worldwide, irrespective of region, culture, ethnicity, education, class and religion.

  • It is estimated that more than two million girls are genitally mutilated per year, a rate of one girl every fifteen seconds.

  • Systematic rape is used as a weapon of terror in many of the world's conflicts. It is estimated that between 250,000 and 500,000 women in Rwanda were raped during the 1994 genocide.

  • Studies show the increasing links between violence against women and HIV and demonstrate that HIV-infected women are more likely to have experienced violence, and that victims of violence are at higher risk of HIV infection

And bravo to Governor General Michaƫlle Jean for visiting Afghanistan to celebrate International Women's Day. As she told the people of Afghanistan: "we, the rest of the women around the world, took too long to hear the cries of our Afghani sisters, but I am here to tell them that they are no longer alone. And neither are the people of Afghanistan."

So on this day, I celebrate women all over the world, past, present and future. I celebrate how far we've come and hope and pray for how far we have left to go. If you feel like that too, why not visit Amnesty International's Act Now campaign and sign up to stop violence against women.


At 6:09 PM, Anonymous Pent said...

Governor General and CBC employee( 1 billion a year and she's CSIS?). She researches French seperatism, her husband, like Plame uses Wilson.

CSIS employees want to keep their jobs:


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