News / USA

    World Leaders Praise Contributions of Women

    U.S. first lady Michelle Obama poses with young female students in front of the White House before an event to mark International Women's Day, as part of the first lady's Let Girls Learn initiative, in Washington, D.C., March 8, 2016.
    U.S. first lady Michelle Obama poses with young female students in front of the White House before an event to mark International Women's Day, as part of the first lady's Let Girls Learn initiative, in Washington, D.C., March 8, 2016.
    VOA News

    People around the world held events Tuesday to mark International Women's Day, a day to mark the achievements of women as well as the continuing struggle for gender equality.

    World leaders praised the contributions of women and urged greater inclusiveness.

    "Today, on International Women’s Day, we recommit ourselves to achieving a world in which every woman and girl enjoys the full range of rights and freedoms that is her birthright," President Barack Obama said in a statement Tuesday.

    "We know that when we invest in women and girls, we are not only helping them, we are helping the entire planet. A future in which all women and girls around the world are allowed to rise and achieve their full potential will be a brighter, more peaceful, and more prosperous future for us all," Obama said.

    He also said Secretary of State John Kerry would soon announce a program, the U.S. Global Strategy to Empower Adolescent Girls, which would provide the next generation of women the tools they need to pursue their aspirations.

    "From human rights to human security, women have made our world a better place," Kerry said in a statement Tuesday.

    "We remember the extraordinary achievements of women throughout history, and we applaud the women of today who lead, inspire, and work to improve their communities, seek solutions to conflict, cure disease, and build peaceful and prosperous societies," he said. "We pledge to young girls that equal opportunities for success will not be limited by gender."

    PHOTO GALLERY: International Women's Day events

    • Female relatives of women prisoners shout slogans against the military and the interior ministry at an event called "Release Our Girls" during International Women's Day in front of the Press Syndicate in Cairo, Egypt, March 8, 2016.
    • Friba Hameed, 30, an Afghan police officer, poses for a photograph in front of a mural of herself, painted by an independent artist, outside the main gate of a police precinct to mark International Women's Day in Kabul, Afghanistan, March 8, 2016.
    • Former comfort woman Chen Lien-hua, center, wipes tears as she talks to media during a ceremony unveiling the nameplate of a museum dedicated to Taiwan's "comfort women" on International Women's Day, in Taipei, Taiwan, March 8, 2016.
    • A 14-year-old Myanmar girl carries three bags of powdered limestone to load onto a boat on the bank of Ayeyarwaddy River, on International Women’s Day in Mandalay, Myanmar, March 8, 2016.
    • Women run as they take part in the "Beauty run" event in Minsk, Belarus, March 8, 2016. About 900 women gathered to mark International Women's Day by running a distance of 5300 meters.
    • Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, right, and his Greek counterpart, Alexis Tsipras, present roses to women journalists because of the International Women's Day as they meet in the Aegean port city of Izmir, western Turkey, March 8, 2016.
    • U.S. first lady Michelle Obama poses with young female students in front of the White House before an event to mark International Women's Day, as part of the first lady's Let Girls Learn initiative, in Washington, D.C., March 8, 2016.
    • People march on the street to mark the International Women's Day in Tbilisi, Georgia, March 8, 2016.
    • Philippine presidential candidate Grace Poe speaks at International Women's Day rally by Gabriela Party List women's group in Manila, March 8, 2016.
    • Protesters march demanding greater accessibility of abortion but also for better work conditions and more state support in raising children, in Warsaw, Poland, March 6, 2016.
    • Kyiv's subway staff waits for female passengers in order to offer them flowers ahead of International Women's Day in Kyiv, Ukraine, March 2, 2016.
    • Demonstrators are stopped by the police during a protest ahead of the International Women's Day, in Istanbul, Turkey, March 6, 2016.
    • Palestinian and Israeli activists take part in a demonstration calling for a better future for both people and ahead of the annual International Women's Day, in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, March 4, 2016.
    • The day before International Women's Day, victims of sexual abuse hug after taking part in a project to speak out against sexual violence, in Jerusalem, March 7, 2016.

    U.N. General-Secretary Ban Ki-moon said he has fought for the empowerment of women during his nine years as head of the international group.

    "For more than nine years, I have put this philosophy into practice at the United Nations. We have shattered so many glass ceilings we created a carpet of shards. Now we are sweeping away the assumptions and bias of the past so women can advance across new frontiers," Ban said in a statement.

    "I remain outraged by the denial of rights to women and girls – but I take heart from the people everywhere who act on the secure knowledge that women’s empowerment leads to society’s advancement," he said.

    Worldwide events

    Women, and men, in countries such as Georgia, the Philippines, Britain, China, India, Bangladesh, the Netherlands and the U.S. took part in marches, rallies, concerts and panel discussions.

    But for the women refugees waiting at a Greek border camp, Tuesday found them living in squalor for yet another day.

    More than 1 million refugees and migrants have fled conflict-torn areas such as Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq.

    U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said Tuesday that 138,000 refugees and migrants have arrived in southern Europe so far this year.

    FILE - Filippo Grandi, left, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, speaks with a Syrian family at a camp in Saadnayel, in the Bekaa valley, Lebanon, Jan. 22, 2016. Grandi said nearly two-thirds of refugees are women and children.
    FILE - Filippo Grandi, left, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, speaks with a Syrian family at a camp in Saadnayel, in the Bekaa valley, Lebanon, Jan. 22, 2016. Grandi said nearly two-thirds of refugees are women and children.

    "In public opinion, the image is often that of young single men arriving in Europe to look for work. Today, on International Women's Day, I wish to report instead that nearly two-thirds are women and children, up from last year's 41 percent," Grandi said.

    Migrants in misery

    For Rafa, 21, who traveled from war torn Syria with a group of female relatives to find herself sleeping rough in the muddy fields, there was little to celebrate on Tuesday as the border gate toward a more promising future in western Europe remained shut.

    "Open the border, please, open door, please, we want to be safe, we want to be safe, open the border, please. We have children. ... We don't know what we should do. We run away from the war," Rafa said.

    Despite the weather taking a turn for the worse Monday and a declaration by EU leaders that the Balkans route was now "shut," thousands of desperate people continued to line up at Greece's northern border and refused to leave the makeshift camp and seek shelter at the hospitality centers set up in the wider region by Greek authorities.

    The appalling conditions at the open-air camp have caused many of the migrant children and women, the camp's most vulnerable residents, to fall ill.

    'Sexual exploitation and trafficking'

    Grandi said more than 35,000 refugees and migrants are stranded in Greece, having been denied access to Macedonia. "This has had a direct impact on women and girls, who are suffering disproportionately and are at great risk of sexual exploitation and trafficking."

    FILE - One of the few water taps at the Idomeni refugee camp in Greece, for more than 13,000 refugees. (Jamie Dettmer for VOA)
    FILE - One of the few water taps at the Idomeni refugee camp in Greece, for more than 13,000 refugees. (Jamie Dettmer for VOA)

    Elsewhere, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Tuesday he believed that "a woman is above all else a mother," during a speech to an audience of women in Ankara.

    “I know there will be some who will be annoyed, but for me a woman is above all a mother," Erdogan said.

    Critics have accused his government of trying to impose strict Islamic values on Turkey and curtailing women's civil liberties, while the president has come under fire for urging Turkish women to have at least three children.

    On Sunday, Turkish police fired rubber bullets to disperse a crowd of hundreds of people trying to mark International Women's Day in central Istanbul. The event had been banned out of security concerns, a local official said.

    Russian President Vladimir Putin also congratulated his countrywomen, saying, it was "the woman, her dignity and mercy, that reveals the real Russian soul."

    Women bring "beauty, light and hope to this world. We are proud of you and we love you," he said during an address carried by Russian state broadcaster RU-RTR.

    Activists hold pictures of slain environmental rights activist Berta Caceres during a protest to mark International Women's Day outside the presidential house in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, March 8, 2016.
    Activists hold pictures of slain environmental rights activist Berta Caceres during a protest to mark International Women's Day outside the presidential house in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, March 8, 2016.


    In Britain, an online survey of 1,600 women found two-thirds of them have been sexually harassed in public places and more than one-third have experienced unwanted sexual touching.

    The survey by the End Violence Against Women Coalition (EVAW), released on the day that is meant to focus on women’s issues, found for women aged 18 to 25 the abuse is even more common, with 85 percent reporting unwanted sexual attention and almost half undergoing unwanted sexual touching.

    "Sexual harassment is an everyday experience which women and girls learn to deal with, but it's time to hold a mirror up to it and challenge it," EVAW acting director Sarah Green said in a statement. "Women should be free to live their lives without the threat of harassment and violence, not having to plan and limit their choices to make sure they're safe."

    In India, hundreds of women from varying religions on Tuesday staged a protest in Mumbai, demanding equal access to places of worship. They also questioned the conservative country's patriarchal mindset. The rally came a day after dozens of women activists were detained by police in the western city of Nashik as they tried to enter a Hindu shrine where entry of females is prohibited.

    Some material for this report came from AP, AFP and Reuters.

    You May Like

    Syrian Torture Victim Recounts Horrors

    'You make them think you have surrendered' says Jalal Nofal, a doctor who was jailed and survived repeated interrogations in Syria

    Mandela’s Millions Paid to Heirs, But Who Gets His Country Home?

    Saga around $3 million estate of country's first democratic president is far from over as Winnie Mandela’s fight for home overshadows payouts

    Guess Which Beach is 'Best in the US'?

    Hawaii’s Hanauma Bay tops an annual "top 10" list compiled by a coastal scientist, also known as Doctor Beach

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora