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Women: A legacy that has a long way to go

This is the second article in commemoration of Women’s Month on the GCE XPERTS blog. International Women’s Day is celebrated annually on March 8 to celebrate women’s social, economic, cultural, and political achievements and to raise awareness of the ongoing struggle for gender equality. 

The history

According to the International Labor Organization (ILO), the first International Women’s Day commemorates the Women Workers’ Demonstration in New York in 1857. In 1908, a group of women in New York City held the first National Women’s Day, demanding better working conditions, higher wages, and the right to vote. 

In 1910, at the International Conference of Working Women in Copenhagen, Denmark, prominent German feminist and socialist Clara Zetkin proposed an annual day to celebrate women’s achievements and promote gender equality. The proposal was accepted and the first International Women’s Day was celebrated on March 19, 1911, in Austria, Denmark, Germany, and Switzerland. But the event that marks modern celebrations of International Women’s Day was a fire at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in the same city on March 25, 1911, that killed 146 workers, most of them young immigrants. In the ashes of that tragic event, the flame of social justice for women and men was lit.


Women’s labor rights

Since the first Women’s Day was celebrated, much progress has been made in women’s labor rights. In most countries the labor rights established in the legislation apply equally to men and women; additionally, there is maternity leave for women to have time with their babies. Women now also have the same health and social security coverage as men. In addition, important debates are already taking place, such as leave for severe menstrual pain.

In the report “Women, Business and the Law 2019: A Decade of Reforms”, the World Bank highlights that 274 reforms to laws and regulations have been introduced to favor the economic inclusion of women, legal protections against sexual harassment at work, guaranteeing the rights of almost 2 billion more women than a decade ago, the elimination of restrictions on women’s employment, increasing their possibilities of accessing certain sectors of the economy that were previously forbidden to them and laws were adopted that require equal pay for work of equal value.

Although progress has been made in the area of women’s labor rights, there is still a long way to go. According to the World Bank, women in many parts of the world still face discriminatory laws and regulations at every stage of their working lives.


Despite the progress made, much remains to be done

According to the World Bank, women worldwide are only granted three-quarters of the legal rights enjoyed by men, this situation is impressive for a time when there is so much talk of equality and female power. In many countries, no reforms have been adopted to improve equal opportunities for women during the 10 years.

It is no mystery to anyone that the wage gap still exists, with the United Nations (UN) estimating that in 2021, in all regions, women are paid less than men, with an estimated gender wage gap of around 20% globally. Gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls remain stalled due to the persistence of historical and structural inequalities in power relations between women and men. 

Progress in closing this gap has been slow. While equal pay for men and women for equal work is widely recognized, it has been difficult to implement in practice. According to the ILO, the wage gap between men and women has not changed substantially since the years immediately before the beginning of the pandemic, i.e., there has not been much progress in terms of the gap.

Read more: Women at work in Latin America and beyond: an unequal reality

The above information leaves a clear lack of taste since women continue to have many disadvantages in the labor market just because they are women. It is very important to make progress on issues such as generating fair conditions, without discrimination and inequality, recognizing that housework is work and should be valued, preventing and denouncing violence against women in the workplace, especially sexual and labor harassment, reducing the left gap between men and women and recognizing in the family economy the work done by women in the home in their different life cycles, it should be recognized that housework is work and should be valued

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