People across Europe and Central Asia celebrate women and girls’ contributions to a sustainable and equal future
All over Europe and Central Asia, feminists, activists, partners, stakeholders, and communities marked this year’s International Women’s Day (8 March) through an interesting and engaging set of events under the 2022 global theme, ‘Gender Equality Today for a Sustainable Tomorrow’.
Joined together through forums, exhibitions, festivals, talks, and social media campaigns, people across the region celebrated the contribution of women and girls, who are leading the charge on climate action, for a more sustainable and equal future. Spread throughout March, the events also provided an opportunity to take stock of the progress achieved so far, highlight the remaining challenges, and galvanize action to achieve gender equality and women’s empowerment.
UN Women Turkey, together with its Media Compact partner Milliyet Newspaper, organized the Equal Stories Summit, bringing businesses and industry leaders together to share the steps they are taking for advancing gender equality. Organized as part of Milliyet Newspaper’s commitments at the Generation Equality Forum, the summit gathered equal stories from companies and organizations including Dell, Fenerbahçe Sports Club, İş Bank, Kellogg, Kibar Holding, Sabancı University, Turkcell and Vodafone.
UN Women Turkey, in cooperation with the United Nations organizations in Turkey, organized a joint event to create an inter-generational space for dialogue on gender equality and climate action, and drew attention to the effects of the climate crisis on women and girls. The event brought together over 150 stakeholders from civil society, public institutions, youth, and local administrations and sparked discussions around climate action, environment, and climate-related disaster risk reduction.
UN Women Kazakhstan celebrated this year’s International Women’s Day through a series of different photography exhibitions opened in New York, Astana, and Nur-Sultan.
The “UN – Kazakhstan: 30 years of cooperation to promote gender equality and empowerment of women” anniversary photo exhibition at the UN Headquarters in New York, USA featured photographs that represent the major gender equality achievements of Kazakhstan under its 30 years of independence, including the abolition of the list of professions prohibited for women; the opening of women's entrepreneurship support centers; key changes in legislation; joining the Generation Equality Forum's Action Coalitions to address gender-based violence and economic justice and rights; adoption of the Action Plan for the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security and much more.
Another exhibition entitled “Ordinary Things” was opened at Nazarbayev University, Kazakhstan featuring a collection of real stories of women survivors of domestic violence from Kazakhstan. The exhibition comprised 16 seemingly ordinary items, such as a glass, a book, and a shoe, each holding a story of a survivor within. The exhibition featured an audio for each displayed item for an immersive experience where visitors could scan available QR codes with their smartphones and listen to the stories of survivors in Kazakh, Russian and English. The exhibition was jointly organized by the Embassy of Canada, the Office of the UN Resident Coordinator in Kazakhstan, Nazarbayev University, UNFPA and UN Women.
UN Women Kazakhstan also opened the “Power of Inspiration” exhibition, featuring the illustrations of 28 outstanding women from Europe and Kazakhstan. During the exhibition opening, prominent Kazakhstani women in medicine, science and sports shared their stories of success with the visitors. The exhibition was attended by diplomats, representative of state bodies and government, international and non-governmental organizations as well as residents of the capital.
UN Women Kyrgyzstan conducted the annual “Ring the Bell for Gender Equality” event for the second time, bringing together business leaders, government representatives, investors and key stakeholders to raise awareness on gender equality and climate change, and highlight the importance of women’s empowerment and leadership as key actors in climate action. During the event, UN Women Kyrgyzstan and Kyrgyz Stock Exchange announced they are set to sign a Memorandum of Understanding to launch Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs) to help financial companies advance gender equality in the workplace, marketplace and society at large.
Throughout March, UN Women Kyrgyzstan organized a series of informal chai chats, a series of tea talks, to discuss the issues of women in politics, ending violence against women and girls, women, peace and security and women’s economic empowerment. The chats brought together key stakeholders who had fruitful and robust discussions on the progress achieved so far in these areas, challenges and needs, and continued partnership to achieve gender equality.
UN Women Albania kickstarted celebrations for International Women’s Day with a Media Forum on gender responsive budgeting. UN Women Representative in Albania, Michele Ribotta, and UN Women project managers discussed with Albanian journalists the main issues addressed by the civil society in the CEDAW Report; the 2022 public budget and gender allocations; and the current involvement of women and young girls in local budgeting priorities.
UN Women partner organizations such as Human Rights in Democracy Centre, Center for Legal Civic Initiatives and Today for the Future presented the results and impact of their recent projects on the life of women and girls. The meeting was held with the support of the Government of Sweden and the Swedish International Development Agency - SIDA.
UN Women Albania, in partnership with renowned photographer Jutta Benzenberg, opened the “I Have a Dream” photo project and exhibition which gives voice to the dreams of adolescent girls and brings attention to the reality of young girls who live in remote parts of the country where gender stereotypes and patriarchal norms are still dominant. The photographs capture snapshots of teenage girls as they go about their daily lives and feature their dreams about the future alongside their portraits.
Seventy women from disadvantaged groups in Albania were provided with smartphones and internet packages aimed at reporting violence and accessing services. The smartphones were distributed during a public event with activists, government officials, Vodafone Albania, and international partners.
The smartphones equipped with BrightSky - a dedicated mobile application for reporting violence, were supported by Vodafone Albania Foundation and the UN Women-EU regional programme on ending violence against women in the Western Balkans and Turkey. The use of these devices aims to enhance tech literacy among women with disabilities, Roma, and Egyptian women, and LGBTI persons.
This year, UN Women Serbia dedicated the International Women’s Day to defying gender stereotypes in all aspects of social and economic life. March 8 was marked through different events and activities including a public art exhibition where interactive animations were projected on a wall where women with different backgrounds and professions spoke about specific gender stereotypes such as unpaid care work, gender-sensitive language, gendered jobs, women’s land rights and women’s entrepreneurship. UN Women Serbia also launched a social media campaign featuring trailblazing women to tackle gender stereotypes in everyday life.
UN Women North Macedonia curated an exhibition in the East Gate Mall, the largest shopping mall in the country. The exhibition invited visitors to immerse and explore more on both the history of International Women’s Day and the current state of gender equality in the country, including some exemplary cases of women-led initiatives for sustainability in local communities. Available in three languages (Macedonian, Albanian, and English), the content was adapted for the younger audience as well.
On social media, UN Women North Macedonia collaborated with a local artist Goran Kostovski, aka Indog, for a series of visuals depicting scenes from everyday life to challenge gender stereotypes and promote gender equality and women’s empowerment.
UN Women Kosovo, in partnership with the Agency for Gender Equality, organized a high-level event under the theme “Eliminate prejudice, work for inclusion”, bringing together women politicians and women ministers, including the President of Kosovo. The event highlighted the challenges and personal experiences that women politicians faced in their careers, and concluded with a series of panels where women ministers, women representatives of international organizations and diplomats, and women members of Parliament, shared their inspiring stories championing for gender equality.
UN Women Moldova marked 8 March by engaging influencers on social media to draw attention to women’s contributions to creating a more equal and sustainable world and to engage a wider audience into taking simple but effective actions in their everyday lives. The videos feature steps everyone can take to change their habits to contribute to climate action.
UN Women Tajikistan held an Eco-Talk event together with young women who are gender equality champions and eco-leaders. The speakers highlighted the role and contributions of women and girls to climate change adaptation, mitigation and response within and beyond the country as well as the role of women and girls in IT and media in eliminating gender stereotypes.
Kerem Bürsin, HeForShe Advocate for Turkey and Demet Evgar, UN Women Turkey Goodwill Ambassador organized an Instagram live chat through @unwomenturkey and @heforsheturkiye social media accounts to mark 8 March. Evgar and Bürsin talked about the new partnerships they launched with HeForshe Turkey and UN Women Turkey and discussed the importance of gender equality and men and boys’ engagement.
UN Women Albania, in partnership with Anabel Media, organized a mock dating show called “Fair Game” where a group of young Albanian women and men were asked about their requirements from their future partners. Their answers were put on boxes and placed behind a couple at the altar – visibly demonstrating the “luggage” women and men carry into relationships. The social experiment aimed to examine and understand the traditional gender roles and stereotypes associated with dating and choosing a long-term partner.
The video was supported by the UN Joint Programme on Ending Violence against Women and Girls in Albania and financed by the Government of Sweden.
UN Women Turkey kicked-off the #IamaWoman / #BenKadınım campaign by announcing Demet Evgar as the first National Goodwill Ambassador for UN Women Turkey. The launch event in Istanbul brought together officials, media, civil society and youth and detailed Demet Evgar’s planned collaboration with the country office over the next two years. Together with UN Women, Evgar aims to reach as many people as possible from all around Turkey and beyond, help their stories be heard by everyone, and pave the way for women through art. #IamaWoman/ #BenKadınım campaign video shared by Evgar went viral and was supported by dozens of celebrities, including HeForShe Advocate Kerem Bürsin, and more than 15 million social media users.
UN Women Turkey kicked off the International Women’s Day celebrations this year with the “Colors of Sustainability” campaign under its Refugee Response Programme. The activities under the campaign brought together 30 women from refugee and host communities to discuss climate change and its impacts on women and girls, mitigation measures and local action suggestions for governmental organizations. The campaign also hosted art workshops where women cooperated to design collective motifs which were reflected on a mural in Gaziantep. The mural underlines refugee and host community women’s wish for living together in peace and harmony.
On the occasion of the International Women’s Day, the Government of Tajikistan reaffirmed its commitment to advancing women’s leadership with the launch of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Center in Dushanbe through the Academy of Public Administration (APA) under the President’s Office. The Center will be a hub for leading global knowledge on advancing gender equality and women’s empowerment. It will also bring together development partners working on gender equality and women’s rights’ issues in the country. The Centre was established through the Financing SDGs in Tajikistan programme, implemented by UNICEF, UNDP and UN Women in cooperation with the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade.