International Women’s Day, celebrated on 8 March every year, has a history stretching back over a century—from its inception in the US in 1909 to the UN’s adopting it in 1975. But while it is valuable for highlighting the economic, social, cultural and political achievements of women, the obverse is also true. It is a good occasion for considering the structural hurdles that women still face in these arenas.
Take political representation, for instance. The percentage of women serving in the central and state legislatures in India is abysmal. Economically, the picture is much the same: despite healthy economic growth, female participation in India’s labour face has actually declined over the past decade or so.
Poor maternal healthcare, access to clean sanitation and safe transport, which affect women disproportionately—these and a host of other issues constrain women’s roles and participation in every aspect of public and private life.
The International Women’s Day is a good reminder of the need for a sustained effort to bring about change.