International Women’s Day – March 8th

by Vrinda Birla

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March 8th is the day when thousands of events are held throughout the world to inspire women and celebrate their achievements. Throughout the world on this day in almost every country, there are political rallies, business conferences, government activities and networking events and other activities in which women are central to the theme like craft markets, theatric performances, fashion shows and much more.

In recent times there has been an increased support to portray the woman of today as an individual within her own right, who has matched in every sphere of activity that she has taken part in, the achievements of most if not all of what her male counterpart has.

While major organizations and corporate houses show their appreciation through a display of women’s  achievements, the United States even designates the whole month of March as ‘Women’s History Month’. International-Womens-Day-Logo_0

 In India too we raise a toast to the thousands of women who have reached extraordinary heights despite a traditionally accepted male-dominated society that has opened up only in the last twenty or thirty years to provide them equal opportunities to showcase their talents and accomplishments in various social, cultural, scientific and educational fields.

 Names of Indian achievers that easily come to mind are:

–       Indira Nooyi, Chairman and CEO of Pepsio, the second largest food and beverage business in the world by net revenue. As its fifth CEO in the company’s 44 year-history, Nooyi has raised the levels of revenues since she took over to dizzy heights. She has een in the tenth spot in Forbes World’s 100 most powerful women of the world in 2013

–       Sonia Gandhi, Congress President since 1998 and wife of the late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, for one who shunned politics always and stayed distant from it, has one major credit to her name. Like her mother-in-law the Late Smt. Indira Gandhi, she has always been a force to reckon with and brought a party like the Congress, which had lost hope in 2003 of coming back to power, together to fight like a unit to ultimately emerge victorious. UPA that has Congress as the major party was her brainchild and has already seen two terms fully, despite a whole series of scams and setbacks that rocked the political arena.

–       Chanda Kochhar, the CEO and MD of ICICI Bank, was  honoured with Padma Bhushan Award, the third highest civilian honour by the Government of India for the year 2010 for her services to banking sector. Ranked as the most powerful business woman in India in Forbes’ list of ‘The World’s 100 Most Powerful Women in 2013, she has also featured in the Power List 2013 of 25 most powerful women in India by India Today, for the third year in a row.

–       Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, chairman & managing director of Biocon Limited a biotechnology company based in Bangalore (Bengaluru), India, to conduct health and environmental programs to benefit of the economically weaker sections of society..  The Biocon Foundation’s 7 ARY clinics are located where healthcare facilities are poor and they offer clinical care, generic medicines and basic tests for those who cannot afford them. Each of the clinics serves a population of 50,000 people living within a radius of 10 km She is on the Forbes list of the world’s 100 most powerful women and the Financial Times’ top 50 women in business list.

–       Kiran Bedi, has been India’s first and highest (woman) ranking officer who joined the Indian Police Service in 1972. Her expertise includes more than 35 years of creative and reformative policing and prison management. She worked with the United Nations in New York as the Police Advisor to the Secretary General, in the Department of Peace Keeping Operations. She represented India in International forums on crime prevention, drug abuse, police and prison reforms and women’s issues. Kiran Bedi has been voted as India’s most admired (THE WEEK 2002), most trusted woman in India. (Readers Digest, March 2010, Navbharat Times 2012), MSN Most Admired Indian Female Icon 2011 and amongst top 10 women Icons of 2013 by The Economic Times.

International Women’s Day will be celebrated on March 8th this year as always.

International Women’s Day has been celebrated almost every year since the early 1900s. Industrialization, along with many other changes also brought about a booming growth in population and a massive rise of varying ideologies. Women also part of the work force acutely felt their oppression and started becoming more vocal. Actively campaigning for change, perhaps the first time women made their presence felt was in their march through New York City, demanding fewer hours of work, better pay and the DSC_1302right to vote.

The first National Woman’s Day was observed on 28th February,1909 as per a declaration by the Socialist Party of America.

In the International Confernce of Working Women held in Copenhagen in 1910, Clara Zetkin, Leader of Social Democratic Party in Germany) proposed a common day for women all around the world to celebrate, that could be called ‘Women’s Day’ that would get them not only together to celebrate on being woman but also serve as a forum for future activities of, by and for women throughout the year. The 100 strong gathering of women from 17 countries representing various bodies, institutions and groups greeted the idea with enthusiasm and so it was declared that every year then on would see the celebration of women’s day.

While many changes have taken place since then, but significant ones of note are

  • On 19th March 1911 International Women’s Day was officially celebrated for the first time in Austria,Denmark, Germany and Switzerland
  • Following discussions in 1913, International Women’s Day was transferred to March 8th and has remained since.
  • In 1917, in the last of February after four days of protest by Russian women for ‘bread and peace’ after more than 2 million Russian soldiers had died in the war, the provincial government that took over from the czar gave the women their right to vote.
  • 1933063Since then women have had a marked presence and been noticed and heard more than ever in whatever issues they have raised.
  • United Nations has held annual conferences on the contribution of women in the social, political and economic fields of human endeavour. This day also marks the recognition of individual  women and honoring them for their contributions as individuals and as a whole with others in various fields.
  • United Nations also designated 1975 as International Women’s Year for all its organizations and offices around the world and held events honoring women’s advancement and vowing continued vigilance and action to ensure that women’s equality is ensured in all aspects of life.
  • IWD happens to be an official holiday in many countries of the world when women are specially remembered and showered with gifts and love for what they have meant to people around them and society as a whole.
  • With the change of the millennium, with more and more women entering into jobs earlier reserved only for men, boardrooms seeing women at the helm of affairs, other public offices seeing women in important positions, a female president or prime minister of a country no longer surprises anybody.

The transformation over a hundred years compared to earlier ages is phenomenal when compared by its pace. The change that is seen is remarkable. Much has been achieved but much more needs to be done.

There are blots and black spots on the landscape that still show a visible difference in certain areas that requires a change of mindset.

Even today women are not recognized to that extent to be promoted to top positions very easily, remuneration is still kept lower than that of their male counterparts in many areas like competitive sports, film industry, corporate jobs, technical fields etc.image_gallery

There is still reluctance to take orders easily and a host of areas where women have equalled and sometimes even beaten men at the task, but deliberately been kept behind, mostly due to lack of collective voice against the bias.

 But in a male-dominated world existing since ancient times to expect the miracle so soon is wishful thinking. But commendable is the fact, that in recent years the noticed gaps, have narrowed considerably.

Unnati Silks and IWD

Unnati Silks is very much woman-centric with its focus on women’s apparel in the form of sarees, salwar kameez, women’s shirts, blouses, waistcoats, scarves, stoles, jackets and long skirts. On this memorable occasion it would have a special sale for two days. visit www.unnatisilks.com

The tone of IWD in recent times has been to highlight the positive and touch upon what can be done to minimize the gaps and convert the negative into positive.

One can only hope that with coming generations, the difference would hardly be visible.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4FG67nkHAVw?wmode=transparent&w=560&h=315]

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