International Women's Day around Europe and Central Asia
On and around International Women’s Day, 8 March, a rich diversity of initiatives celebrate women and girls, their limitless imagination, their joyous dreams and their boundless strength across Europe and Central Asia. UN Women, along with partners, organized events across the region, under the theme of “Think Equal, Build Smart, Innovate for Change”, putting innovation by women and girls, for women and girls, at the heart of efforts to achieve gender equality. From important social and digital campaigns, panels, seminars and press conferences to engaging the international community and members states with discussions around innovation and gender equality at key international meetings, here are some highlights from the occasion in our region.
On the occasion of International Women’s Day, UN Women in Ukraine celebrated the remarkable contribution of generations of women artists to Ukrainian culture during the HeForShe Arts Week. To give tribute to the contemporary women artists who shape the new cultural landscape of Ukraine, UN Women established the Women in Arts Award, in partnership with the Ukrainian Institute, a state institution that represents Ukrainian culture internationally. The award was inaugurated by Pavlo Klimkin, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine. “We must fight to win. We will replenish our team of warriors. We will engage some people with positive influence, someone - with a positive impetus. But everything well become magenta,” said the Minister at the opening ceremony of the Award on 13 March. “For the second year, the jewel of the HeforShe is the HeforShe Arts Week, which put Kyiv on the map of the global cultural cities along with Madrid, Stockholm, New York, London, Amsterdam and 9 other cities,” said Anastasia Divinskaya, UN Women Representative in Ukraine. Read more about the event here.
On 12 March 2019, the Georgian Stock Exchange, UN Women and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) held the annual Ring the Bell for Gender Equality event for the second time in Georgia. Over 60 representatives of the private sector, the government, civil society and the international community gathered to discuss the new quota for women’s representation on the supervisory boards of commercial banks in Georgia. Read more.
On the occasion of International Women’s Day, about 2000 gender equality supporters from civil society, media, universities, international organizations and UN agencies joined the Women’s March in Kyiv. The participants marched for equal representation of women and men in decision making, economic freedom and advocated for the ratification of the Istanbul Convention. They raised their voices against sexism and multiple forms of discrimination against women and girls.
UN Women office in Turkey has created a special space on the occasion of International Women’s Day at Atakule, one of the symbolic buildings of the capital, Ankara. In cooperation with Atakule, UN Women has decorated an Instagram point with 18 messages in Turkish and English languages, such as #BeBold, #BeStrong, #TakeAction and #ThinkEqual, showcasing strength, courage and celebrating women’s activism on 8 March. The hashtag messages stress that women are the pioneers of change, in line with the global theme of International Women’s Day this year, “Think equal, build smart and innovate for change.” Read more.
For International Women’s Day, UN Women launched a film in Turkey focusing on gender equality in education, science, and employment. The film emphasizes the negative impact of gender stereotypes on women’s participation and representation in social, economic and politic life.
UN Women in Albania, in partnership with the Albanian National Center of Cinematography, organized the first “Women International Film Festival”, focusing on gender-based violence. The event started on the 8 March to mark International Women’s Day and continued for four days until 11 March. A variety of documentaries, long and short movies by various international and national filmmakers, were shown free of charge for the audience at Millennium Cinema in capital Tirana. The festival gave the opportunity to the public to see and reflect on the deeply rooted inequalities in the roles, rights and opportunities of men and women, attitudes and social norms that normalize gender-based violence, and the way these are manifested differently in various countries. 1 in 2 women in Albania experience at least one form of violence in their lifetime, including physical, psychological or sexual violence. This pandemic devastates lives, causes untold pain and suffering. The program of the Festival included features from Germany, Kosovo, Slovenia, Ireland and the US. The program has been supported by Goethe Institute, the Slovenian Embassy, the US Embassy in Tirana, and the Irish Embassy in Athens. The Festival has been also supported by Intesa San Paolo Bank in Albania. Read more.
Fenerbahçe Sports Club, which joined forces with the HeFor She movement to advance gender equality and women’s empowerment in sport in Turkey, hosted an event on International Women’s Day for women athletes who pioneered the establishment of women’s volleyball and basketball teams in 1954, and won consecutive championships for seven years. The event also featured a photo exhibition dedicated to the pioneer women athletes of Fenerbahçe. The club announced that a book will be prepared soon, telling the stories of Fenerbahçe’s women athletes. Read more.
To mark this year’s International Women’s Day, UN Women organized the “Girls Innovate for Change” workshop, in collaboration with IPKO Foundation and UNICEF, UN Kosovo Team, the Agency for Gender Equality and SIDA. In line with this year’s theme “Think equal, build smart, innovate for change,” the workshop aimed to challenge the gender stereotypes related to traditionally male-dominated professions. 50 young girls from ten municipalities around Kosovo, accompanied by their teachers, travelled to Pristina to take part in this event, which featured different skill-building activities related to Information and Communication Technology (ICT) as well as inspirational speeches by professionals in the field. The four different technology workshops allowed the girls to engage in and learn skills related to robotics, 3D design and printing, programming as well as web design.
On International Women’s Day, 400 people gathered at the "8/365" march for International Day of Women's Solidarity and Struggle for Equal Rights in Kyrgyzstan, supported by UN Women, to call for gender equality and women's empowerment. During the march, activists called for the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women, adoption of 30 percent gender quotas in local parliaments, equal pay for equal value of work, ending violence against women and girls, ensuring safe cities and safe spaces for women, and survivors of gender-based violence among other issues
On International Women’s Day, Jahjaga Foundation, founded by the former President of Kosovo, Atifete Jahjaga, organized the international conference “Giving voice to survivors of sexual violence in conflict in Kosovo,” with the support of German Embassy in Pristina, UN Kosovo Team and UN Women. The conference aimed to create the space for dialogue on sexual violence as a weapon of conflict, which still has a long-lasting impact in Kosovo. Besides several high-level discussions and addresses, survivors of conflict-related sexual violence told their stories anonymously to the audience to increase awareness about the issue. The survivors, together with the organizers and members of civil society, endorsed the “Communiqué of Pristina” as the outcome of the conference aiming to take the survivors’ perspectives, demands and needs to the global level. Read more.
The Italian Embassy in collaboration with UN Women Albania and the Italian Agency for Cooperation and Development organized a discussion with women members of parliament, women representatives of civil society and private sector. These women that have a voice in the Albanian society, shared their experiences and challenges on International Women’s Day. The discussion was based on women economic empowerment, political participation and violence against women.
On #WomensDay, UN Women office in Serbia showcased, using any innovative approach, the legacy of female architects who contributed greatly to the architecture of Belgrade, the capital, but remained unknown. As a result of the campaign, conducted in cooperation with the Prime Minister's Office and the EU Delegation to Serbia, five buildings in Belgrade center built by famous women architects are now featuring special plaques containing a QR code. By scanning the QR code with a mobile phone, or other devices, people passing by will be able to learn more about the work of the architects and the buildings. The campaign was launched at “Kralj Petar Prvi”, a famous building by the first woman architect in Serbia, Jelisaveta Nacic. Zorana Mihajlovic, Deputy Prime Minister and the President of the Coordination Body for Gender Equality in Serbia; Sem Fabrizi, Head of the EU Delegation to Serbia; Frederic Mondolini, French Ambassador; Tracy Galagher, the Deputy Head of Mission at the British Embassy; and Milena Zindovic of the Women's Architectural Society in Serbia delivered opening remarks.
My balloon is the symbol of women solidarity and peace. We are stronger together in SADA Centre” said Sona, a 32-year-old Syrian refugee woman who attends livelihood skills courses at the SADA Women Empowerment and Solidarity Center in Gaziantep, along Turkey’s border with Syria. 400 Turkish, Syrian, Afghani and Iraqi women from the SADA Centre commemorated International Women’s Day by sharing their thoughts and hopes for the future. They also learned more about gender equality by taking quizzes. Women and their children flew balloons up into the sky as a symbol for women’s solidarity and peace. The Centre is run in partnership with the International Labour Organization (ILO), the Association for Solidarity with Asylum Seekers and Migrants (SGDD-ASAM), and the Gaziantep Metropolitan Municipality, with financial contribution from the European Union Regional Trust Fund in Response to the Syrian Crisis, the MADAD Fund, and the Government of Japan.
On 7 March, Kazakhstan Stock Exchange JSC (“KASE”), in partnership with UN Women in Kazakhstan, the World Bank and the International Finance Corporation (IFC), and under the UN Sustainable Stock Exchanges Initiative (“UN SSE Initiative), held the opening bell ceremony titled “Ring the Bell for Gender Equality”. The event marked International Women's Day and highlighted the criticality of advancing gender equality, women’s economic empowerment and enhancing their role in society. Read more.
UN agencies in Turkey and the Embassy of Sweden in Ankara brought together university and high school students ahead of International Women’s Day to discuss the crucial role of youth as agents of change to accelerate the achievement of gender equality and women's rights. “From Beijing to Date, From Today to the Future” intergenerational dialogue was organized at the Osmangazi University in Eskişehir, central Turkey, by the Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment Result Group of the UN, chaired by UN Women. Read more.
Tajikistan marked International Women’s Day with a variety of events ranging from photos contests, exhibitions to advocacy events to promote women’s economic empowerment and women’s human rights. On March 7, UN Women organized an open debate with youth, in close cooperation with Y-PEER Tajikistan and the Face to Face Debate Club. The participants discussed the issues of gender equality and stigma and discrimination against women living with HIV. Young women and men proposed solutions, such as increasing accessibility of information, providing resilience opportunities for women living with HIV, and partnering with the media, as one of the key actors in influencing public opinion, to advocate for gender equality issues. On the same day, UN Women organized a day of festivities, together with NGO Hamsol ba Hamsol (representatives of the global Y-PEER network in Tajikistan) and the Embassy of France in Tajikistan, to celebrate International Women's Day. The event featured a photo exhibition and an exhibition of the products made by the famous designers and young artists.
For International Women’s Day, the UN Women Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia launched a social media campaign to salute women industry leaders, innovators, activists and social entrepreneurs across the region who think out of the box to build more inclusive societies. Across Europe and Central Asia, women are industry leaders, innovators, activists and social entrepreneurs. Each day, they bring their ideas and their hearts into transforming our world through the empowerment of women and girls. They are changing the ways business is conducted, cities are built, services are delivered. Their way is a smart, sustainable one, and in sharing some of their inspiring stories, we celebrate their ingenuity and courage. Read more.
From 6 to 13 March, the 10th (jubilee) edition of the Women’s Rights Nights (WRN 10) brought together students, experts, academia, general public, and inspiring speakers, who are leaders in new technologies and innovation, social entrepreneurs and owners of start-ups –in Skopje. Women’s Rights Nights serves as a cultural alternative in commemorating International Women’s Day in North Macedonia. This year, WRN 10 presented two exhibitions – a student exhibition “F8” and women artists’ exhibition “Changing Reflections”, based on the global theme “Think equal, build smart, innovate for change!”. From 6 to 8 March, short documentaries from the series “Stories from Sweden” and feature documentaries were shown. The key event on the 8 March, hosted the screening of the documentary movie “Geek Girls” (2017), followed by a debate on “Gender Gaming for Equal Rights”, moderated by Ana Jovkovska, a journalist and writer, and guest speakers Arijana Koskarova (Creative Hub), Iva Mihajlovska (NapNok), Irena N. Chaushevska (Next Billionaires Capital, NewMan's Business Accelerator), Klimentina Ilijevski (Pablik, Lice v Lice), Petar Ninovski (Brainster), and Tamara Kotevska (Honeyland). The event concluded with a concert. WRN 10 is sponsored by the City of Skopje, supported by UN Women in partnership with the University for Audio-visual Arts – EFTA from Skopje, Institute for Gender Studies at the Faculty of Philosophy in Skopje and the Swedish Embassy in Skopje.
Each year on International Women's Day, the women's movement in Kyrgyzstan joins efforts to draw public and decision-makers’ attention to the history of women’s struggle for political rights. On 6 March, a national forum was held in the state residence with high-level political participation to promote political rights of women in Kyrgyzstan, in particular, to promote the draft law on the reservation of mandates for women in local councils of the Kyrgyz Republic. The forum was organized by the NGO "Women Support Center" with the support of the OSCE Program Office in Bishkek, UN Women and UNDP. Read more.
On 5 March, more than 400 young people gathered in Talas, a city in northwestern Kyrgyzstan, to commemorate International Women’s Day and promote equal rights and opportunities for women and girls, specifically in innovation and technology industries. Successful women from different professions shared their personal experience in achieving success, overcoming various barriers, and made recommendations to young women and girls on choosing their path in education and professional life. The event was organized by UN agencies, together with the Ministry of Labour and Social Development of the Kyrgyz Republic and Talas regional state administration. Read more and watch the video.
On 4 March, to commemorate Zero Discrimination Day and International Women’s Day, women living with HIV in Tajikistan presented their business projects, with support from UN Women and UNAIDS to an audience that included government representatives, civil society and UN agencies. The women received business skills trainings as part of the ILO program “Start and Improve Your Business” between February and March of this year. At the trainings, women learned about business and financial skills, with the aim to improve their self-confidence and decision-making skills as entrepreneurs. The participants said the trainings transformed the way they approach their lives, dreams and ideals. As a result of the trainings, 25 women living with HIV acquired business skills and got their T-MBA certificates. UN Women collaborated with UNAIDS, ILO, and Committee on Women and Family Affairs (CWFA) under the Government of Tajikistan for this initiative. CWFA representative encouraged the women to apply for Women Economic Initiative Presidential grants.
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