Building peace in the minds of men and women

International Women’s Day

08 March 2019

Every year, UNESCO celebrates International Women’s Day. It is a chance to rejoice in the progress made towards achieving gender equality and women’s empowerment, but also to critically reflect on those accomplishments and strive for greater momentum. It is a day to recognize the extraordinary acts of women and to stand together, as a united force, to advance gender equality around the world.

Under the overall theme of ‘Women in the Digital Space’, UNESCO held a full day of events on Friday 8 March, bringing together UNESCO permanent delegates, civil society partners, the general public as well as virtual participants around the world. The message from Audrey Azoulay, UNESCO Director-General on the occasion of this International Day can be read here.

The celebration of International Women’s Day began with a debate on “Women Online: Challenges for Gender Equality in the Digital Space”. Ms Saniye Gülser Corat, UNESCO’s Director for Gender Equality, addressed the keynote speech to the more than 300 participants present at the debate highlighting the connections between gender and technology. Ms Corat noted that “there are hundreds, if not thousands of women scientists whose work benefits us all today, but whose names are not even mentioned in the scientific journals. The unconscious bias and gender stereotypes keep us believing in the myth that women are not good enough or interested in science”. Please find here the Reflections from Ms Corat on this Day.

*Ms Corat delivering the opening speech                                     *More than 300 participants were present

Following her opening remarks, H.E. Mr José Antonio Rodríguez, Ambassador of the Dominican Republic to UNESCO, performed one of his original songs, A quién más voy a querer, as a tribute to women. His touching performance set the tone for a lively and successful debate, which was presented by influential women in their fields: Ms Christine Kelly, journalist and moderator of the debate; Ms Christelle Delarue, founder of the first feminist ad agency in France Mad&Women; Ms Mélanie Wanga, journalist and victim of online harassment, and Ms Céline Bardet, founder and president of We are Not Weapons of War, an NGO dedicated to addressing rape in war and conflict zones.


* H.E. Mr Rodríguez performing A quién más voy a querer     *From left, Ms Kelly, Ms Delarue, Ms Corat, Ms Wanga, Ms Bardet

 To watch the full debate, please click here (Floor).

The Day was also opportune for the launching of the EQUALS Policy Paper entitled I’D BLUSH IF I COULD: Closing gender divides in digital skills through education.  The publication aims at exposing gender biases in AI and putting forward ideas to close a digital skills gender gap that is, in most parts of the world, wide and growing. It also explains the role gender-responsive education and training can play to help reset gendered views of technology and ensure equality for women and girls. 

This was followed by #Wiki4Women, an event organized in partnership with the Wikimedia Foundation to create, enrich, or translate Wikipedia profiles of women committed in the fields of education, science, culture, social and human sciences, and communication and information. The Wikimedia team offered a training that ran for around 40 minutes to new editors. This same team accompanied around the participants throughout the afternoon to work in groups on the profiles of women identified in relation to the UNESCO mandate. Satellite events also took place in Akureyri, Almaty, Bangkok, Buenos Aires, Cairo, Lima, New Delhi, and Reykjavik.

  *From left to right, Ms Azoulay, Ms Corat and Ms Delarue at the #Wiki4Women

Throughout the month of March, UNESCO is also celebrating the achievements of 23 women in technology, from quantum physicists to artificial intelligence experts, through an exhibition entitled “Remarkable Women in Technology”, which is divided into three groups: pioneers, leaders and influencers. All of them have made significant contributions to one of the most impactful sectors of our time and made their mark in a field in which women are typically under-represented. The Exhibition can also be viewed online.

For more information about the day, please visit our dedicated webpage.


See more photos here