March 8th is a day to celebrate women’s achievements throughout history and across nations, and for disregarding divisions, be they national, religious, ethnic, linguistic, cultural, economic or political. It is an occasion for looking back on past struggles and accomplishments, as well as for looking ahead toward what still needs to be done to improve the lives and opportunities of women. March 8th is International Women's Day, and marks the 100th anniversary of the holiday.
The United Nations first proclaimed March 8th Day for Women's Rights and International Peace in 1977. Since then, women have made great strides, but they still have a long way to go. Nowhere in the world can women claim to have all the same rights and opportunities as men. The majority of the world's 1.3 billion of the poorest people are women. They receive 30 to 40 percent less pay then men for doing the same work. They also continue to be disproportionally victims of violence worldwide.
"This day reminds us that, while enormous progress has been made, there is still work to be done before women achieve true parity," said President Barack Obama while signing a proclamation that officially designated the month of March as Women's History Month in the United States.
"My Administration has elevated the rights of women and girls abroad as a critical aspect of our foreign and national security policy. Empowering women across the globe is not simply the right thing to do; it is also smart foreign policy."
"Countries are more peaceful and prosperous when their female citizens enjoy equal rights, equal voices, and equal opportunities," said President Obama. "Today, we are integrating a focus on women and girls in all our diplomatic efforts, and incorporating gender considerations in every aspect of our development assistance."
"International Women’s Day is a chance to pay tribute to ordinary women throughout the world and is rooted in women’s centuries-old struggle to participate in society on an equal footing with men," said President Obama. "In honor of the pioneering women who came before us, and in recognition of those who will come after us ... we recommit to erasing the remaining inequities facing women in our day."