In 1975, the United Nations adopted 8 March annually as the day to highlight the plight of women worldwide. In many countries and cultures, women had been discriminated against in employment, social benefits, political processes, and even in religion. The situation gradually improved with awareness coupled with changing attitudes, and by providing equal opportunities in education for women.
Since the 1970’s, great progress has been achieved across the world where women are treated with much more fairness and justice. However, there are still deep seated cultural and religious biases against womenfolk in certain groups today, where they are not yet free to participate in civic and spiritual activities. We need to be vigilant so as not to regress in the achievements we have made as human race where the protection and advancement of women is concerned.
In our own country, there needs to be greater education from a young age on how to respect girls and not subject them to sexist remarks and abuse. Malaysians must not see women in anyway less capable or important than men. Non-governmental organisations should work with the authorities (beginning with the Federal Parliament and our politicians!) to emphasize and strengthen anti-discriminatory measures at all levels of society.
In conventional Malaysian families, mothers and sisters play a major role in preserving our age-old traditions, as well as upholding strong family bonds. Thus by fully respecting them and esteeming their roles, our families’ well-being will no doubt be enhanced.
The theme chosen for this year’s International Women’s Day is – “Time is Now: Rural and urban activists transforming women’s lives”. It highlights the need to focus on uplifting lives in rural regions, where women’s economic and political participation is often lower, and they suffer from a ‘reduced’ status.
It is our prayer and hope, that by taking important steps to uplift women’s social, economic, and mental well-being across the world, we humankind will emerge happier and better as time passes. Let us not see women as the ‘weaker sex’, but as the ‘equal sex’. Happy Women’s Day 2018!