Archives for posts with tag: InternationalWomensDay

International Women’s Day & Gender Equality
The world celebrates International Women’s Day on 8 March each year. It is a day to commemorate women and also a day to reflect on gender equality, assess where we are, and what steps we need to move forward to advance equality in education, wage parity, political representation, sexual and reproductive rights and healthcare.


As the world celebrates International Women’s Day on March 8 every year, we remember the women who have made a difference in our families, communities, and the world at large. This holiday has its roots in the socialist/political events of the early 20th Century primarily in Europe and Russia when women first demanded equal rights, suffrage, and protested sexual discrimination.

In 1975, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed March 8 a “UN Day for Women’s Rights and Peace,” and the commemoration also became more popular in the West as it took on more human rights, economic, political, and social achievements. This year’s IWD’s theme is “Equality for Women Is Progress for All.” Says the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon:  “Countries with more gender equality have better economic growth. Companies with more women leaders perform better. Peace agreements that include women are more durable. Parliaments with more women enact more legislation on key social issues such as health, education, anti-discrimination and child support. The evidence is clear: equality for women means progress for all.”

In the past few months, I have had the good fortune to become acquainted with a young woman who personifies International Women’s Day and its ideals to make the world a better place. She is a catalyst for change in taking on critical human rights, environmental, education, job, and social issues.  

Anesa Kajtazovic came to America’s heartland from war-torn Bosnia & Herzegovina as a young girl with her family 17 years ago, with nothing more than hopes and dreams. Her destiny and determination (graduated from college in 3 years with a double major) has carried her from an immigrant to the youngest woman (24 years) ever to be elected to the Iowa State House of Representatives. She is now running as a candidate for Congress.

Her energetic vision is a Real Progress, Real Progressive platform that includes measures that afford an opportunity for all to reach their dreams. She champions equal pay, jobs creation in Iowa, education, immigration reform, an extension of unemployment insurance, renewable energy, preserving natural resources, access to quality and affordable health care for all Iowans, and campaign finance reform laws.  Her political platform agenda is inclusive, fresh, and progressive:

SOCIAL SECURITY—  She calls for the expansion of Social Security benefits, not cuts to the program that is a vital lifeline for our seniors.

LGBT EQUALITY— In Congress, she will protect and promote equality. That includes equal rights for all and protection from discrimination in schools and in the workplace.

WOMEN’S RIGHTS— Women have an economic right to equal pay for equal work and a right for access to a full spectrum of reproductive healthcare options.

ENVIRONMENT— She will work toward ending dependence on foreign oil and move our country toward energy independence by investing in clean, renewable energy.

CAMPAIGN FINANCE— She is a champion for campaign finance reform. Our elected officials should be a representation of the people, not big corporations.

While fully assimilated into the American lifestyle, Anesa has never forgotten her roots and cultural identity. That was evident very much last weekend when Bosnia & Herzegovina celebrated its Independence Day, (March 1, 1992).  Ambassador Muhamed (Mo) Sacirbey and I drove to Grand Rapids, Michigan, and Chicago, Illinois, to partake in events within the Bosniak communities at the Bosnian/American Cultural Centers in each city.  Anesa Kajtazovic had driven from Iowa to Chicago to make an address to the community and discuss her platform. It was a proud day for me and Ambassador Mo to hear such a fresh vision and determination from a young member of the Bosnian diaspora. It made us proud to be Americans.  Although I won’t be able to vote in the Iowa elections, Anesa Kajtazovic has my vote for International Women’s Day.




As I write this message watching a late Spring snowfall, this is my wish & prayer of the day: “WOMEN, stand together. United, we can conquer any wave or challenge. Jump in … and let’s make for a better world TOGETHER.” Happy International Women’s Day! — Susan Sacirbey


Teachers and the education they instill are the hope for a better, more sustainable world.  As we celebrate World Teacher’s Day today, I’d like to thank those dedicated individuals who make learning, the pursuit of knowledge, and curiosity their life’s passion.  As tomorrow, 8 March, is International Women’s Day, I’d like to share a news blog written by Ambassador Mo last year, “Closing Girl’s Education Gap.” It’s an appropriate message for these two days. The question remains, “Are we closing the gender gap in education?”


” Closing Girl’s Education Gap,” By Ambassador Mo

UN launched a two-day meeting in Paris devoted to gender inequality in classroom achievement and on women’s leadership role in education (with evidence showing that disparities in education widen as girls grow). The forum on gender equality in education brings together experts, government officials and representatives of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to examine the root causes of inequality between girls’ and boys’ school performances. (From UNESCO & UN News Centre Sources)

“Worrying” Reports:
While gender equality in education remains a crucial issue for many countries, women still account for two thirds of the world’s illiterate population and the majority of out-of-school children are girls, according to the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), which organized the forum. “Equality is not a numbers game,” UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova said in her address to the meeting. “Equality implies the same chances of learning, of benefiting from equitable treatment within the school, and the same opportunities in terms of employment, wages and civic participation.” Ms. Bokova noted that UNESCO’s 2011 Education for All Global Monitoring Report paints a “worrying” picture of enduring disparities and challenges to equality.

Key Foundation of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs):
The Education for All goals were agreed to by more than 160 countries at the World Education Forum in 2000 in Dakar, Senegal, with the aim of achieving 100 per cent child enrolment in primary schools by 2015. Improving access to education is also one of the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) world leaders have pledged to achieve by 2015.

Slow or No Progress:
“Trends show that enrolment ratios have increased worldwide in primary and lower secondary levels – but that gender differences remain,” said Ms. Bokova. Arab and sub-Saharan African States face “serious” gender disparities at the lower secondary level, and the problem gets worse at the upper secondary level in South and West Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.

Girls Getting Lost Along the Way:
Also, research from 15 countries in East and Southern Africa between 2000 and 2007 show that learning achievements in mathematics and reading, and gender equality in leadership and teaching staff progressed very slowly or not at all. “Clear evidence is mounting from all sides,” Ms. Bokova stated. “Disparities in education grow as girls grow. These disparities start early across the world, and they run deep. “All of this shows that girls are getting lost along the way, falling out of education. It shows they are not getting everywhere an education of quality and equality.

Participants at the forum will also consider the progress achieved in reducing the gender gap, and the obstacles that stand in the way of women’s ability to achieve senior leadership positions in the public sector and more specifically in education. The outcome of the meeting will be presented at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris on 5 October, on the occasion of World Teachers’ Day.


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