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

    Russia Sees Brexit Impact Widespread but Temporary

    Officials, citizens react to Britain’s vote to exit European Union with mix of pleasure, understanding and concern

    Obama Encourages Entrepreneurs to Seek Global Interconnection

    President tells entrepreneurs at global summit at Stanford University to find mentors, push ahead with new ideas on day after Britain voters decide to exit EU

    Video Some US Gun Owners Support Gun Control

    Defying the stereotype, Dave Makings says he'd give up his assault rifle for a comprehensive program to reduce gun violence

    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.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Unchartered Territoryi
    X
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Unchartered Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.
    Video

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora