Female empowerment benefits all

Written by Barbara Matera on 8 March 2017 in Opinion

International Women's Day is more than just one day out of the year - it can serve as an example for a new way of life, writes Barbara Matera.

Barbara Matera | Photo credit: European Parliament audiovisual

International Women's Day, on 8 March, is one of the most important days for women all around the world.

Over the past decades, there has been a steady increase in actions for the planet, prosperity, peace and partnership, especially those aimed at female empowerment and gender equality on a broader scale.

The fourth World Conference on Women was held in Beijing in September 1995 and was followed by Beijing+5, Beijing+10, Beijing+15 and Beijing+20.


The 1979 UN convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women, the millennium development goals (MDGs), drafted in 2000, and the 17 new sustainable development goals (SDGs), part of the 2030 Agenda, are just some of the examples showing how important gender equality has become.

Yet, 20 years after Beijing and despite solid evidence that women's empowerment is central to reducing poverty, promoting development and addressing the world's most urgent challenges, EU governments have recognised that no country has fully achieved equality between women and men or made empowerment for females a reality.

Progress has been slow, uneven, and major gaps and forms of discrimination unfortunately still remain. Even the SDGs have seen new challenges emerge after their implementation.

This year, the theme of International Women's Day is economic empowerment. The world acknowledges that women are important in creating jobs and leading to inclusive prosperity. 

Countries that value and empower women, allowing them to participate fully in the labour market and decision making, recognise that they are more stable, prosperous and secure. 

I am convinced that this year's theme will help to accelerate the 2030 Agenda, and will help the effective implementation of the new sustainable development goals.

It's clear that the world of work is changing, with significant implications for women. On one hand, globalisation and the technological and digital revolution is bringing opportunities. On the other, there is the growing informality of labour, unstable livelihoods and incomes, new fiscal and trade policies and environmental impacts, which must be addressed in the context of women's economic empowerment.

There is no better time than International Women's Day to allow the world to reflect on the progress made, call for change and celebrate acts of courage and determination by ordinary women, that have played an extraordinary role in the history of their countries and communities.

As a woman, I strongly urge the entire international community, civil society and every human being to consider International Women's Day, not as one day out of the year, but rather as an example of a daily way of life, as a final goal to reach, where women are equal at every level, sphere and scale.


About the author

Barbara Matera (EPP, IT) is a Vice-Chair of Parliament's women's rights and gender equality committee

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