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100 years of International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day was established 100 years ago to end discrimination against women. 

Even though there is cause for celebration, we still have a long way to go — particularly in the areas of gender-based violence and education. This anniversary should be a call to action for governments to effect change in these areas.

Struggle against violence

Violence against women is the most serious problem in the fight against inequality. The International Centre for Research on Women found that more than 60% of women in Bangladesh have experienced sexual violence from an intimate partner. A post-war survey in Liberia by the World Health Organisation reported that 90% of interviewees said they were “subjected to one or multiple acts of sexual abuse during the war.” 

The consequences of this abuse are unwanted pregnancy, HIV infection, stigma and dropping out from school. 

Inequality in education

In Malawi, 22% of girls leave primary school due to marriage, pregnancy and family responsibilities. In a recent joint study supported by Concern on violence in schools in Sierra Leone, over two-thirds of the girls had experienced some form of sexual violence and some of the most severe abuses were committed by teachers.

Across the world, 69 million children do not go to primary school — 54% of these are girls. Baganze Myirabakirihehe from the Democratic Republic of Congo said: 

It’s not possible to spend money on a daughter because when she finishes school she will marry and go to another family. 

Call to action

Research by Concern and the International Food Policy Research Institute has shown that investments in greater equality have multiple benefits, including reducing the number of malnourished children by 13.4 million in south Asia and by 1.7 million in sub-Saharan Africa.

Flora Timanywa, a widowed mother of six children from Biharamulo, Tanzania, said:

The greatest achievement will be when women and men are judged and treated on what they achieved within the community and not based on gender.

Irish  Joint Consortium on Gender Based Violence