The 8th March marks the day when people around the world come together to highlight how far women have come in society and to help to bridge the inequality divide among genders, and the Cayman Islands joined in that fight to create a more even world.
First celebrated in 1911, the idea of an International Women’s Day was born even earlier than that, in 1908, when 15,000 women marched in New York for better pay and the right to vote. In 1910 a woman called Clara Zetkin put forth the idea for an annual event at the International Conference of Working Women in Copenhagen. The idea grew, with Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland all beginning to celebrate International Women’s Day. In 1975, the United Nations started celebrating the day, eventually under a specific theme each year. In 1996, the first theme was ‘Celebrating the past, Planning for the Future’. In 2020 the world focused on ‘An equal world is an enabled world’ and asked people to work together to create a gender equal world, celebrated with the hashtag #EachforEqual.
On Friday, civil servants gathered on the steps of the Government Administration building wearing purple to signify their support for gender equality, while March has been designated Honouring Women Month. At the civil service gathering, Government Councillor Barbara Conolly said that while they were celebrating International Women’s Day and the achievements of women, they still had quite a long way to go before Cayman women could achieve full equality, but at the end of the day they continued to fight for equal rights.
The Family Resources Centre are hosting twenty events throughout the month of March, beginning with the gathering on the steps and including a Colour Me Purple 5k fun run taking place on 17th March at Public Beach (email email@example.com for more information or visit the Family Resources Centre on their website or Facebook). The FRC will also be holding workshops for women seeking employment as well as those who want to join in the discussion on gender equality in the workplace.
The Cayman Islands Chamber of Commerce celebrated the day with a call to action from internationally renowned educator, author and filmmaker Jackson Katz, a pioneer on scholarship and activism on issues of gender, race and violence. He gave a speech entitled ‘Gender on the Agenda: Why equality between the sexes is a critical issue for women and men’, addressing the International Women’s Day 2017 theme “#BeBoldForChange”, which was a call to action for both men and women to help forge a better working world - a more gender inclusive world.
Last week the annual ‘Walk in her Shoes’ event took place at Camana Bay, with men donning women’s shoes and outfits to undertake a sponsored walk to raise funds for the Cayman Islands Crisis Centre. This was the fifth year that such a walk has taken place, with thousands being raised to help cover the costs of the Crisis Centre’s shelter that offers a safe place for the victims of domestic abuse and their children. Funds are also being used to help to build a new facility.
Around the world, there were a series of marches to raise awareness of discrimination against women, including a March4Women event in London which was well attended, despite the growing threat of the spread of the Corona virus. For that reason, there were more online campaigns instead of the usual protest marches on the street in the UK. In Spain women marched to demand equal working rights for women and to demand an end to violence against women. Similar marches were organised far and wide across the globe. Cayman’s own protest march to end gender violence took place at the beginning of the month under the hashtag #Sheissupported, following the violent assault on a female bartender allegedly by the Speaker of the House.
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