Education International
Education International

International Women’s Day: activists bring the Big Apple to a standstill

published 9 March 2015 updated 10 March 2015

Education International’s delegation to the 59th Session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women marched alongside thousands of activists through New York Sunday for gender equality and the rights of women and girls.

“We want gender equality!” shouted Ms Phumzile Mlambo Ngucka, Executive Director of UN Women. “When do we want it?” she asked. “NOW!” was the response from the thousands of women and men of all ages from around the world, who stopped traffic in New York City, USA, on Sunday, 8 March.

Ms Mlambo Ngucka addressed the activists before they left Dag Hammarskjold Plaza, opposite the UN headquarters, to march to Times Square. She was joined by high level dignitaries including UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon, who told the crowd: “We don’t need any words, we need global action!”

Ms Chirlane McCray, First Lady of the City of New York, reminded the marchers that they were marching “in the footsteps of generations of feminists”, and that, although the road to gender equality is a long one, she was confident that today’s generation of feminists would make sure the world completed the journey.

In her rallying call to the crowd, 2011 Nobel Prize Laureate Ms Leymah Gbowee also said the time has come for gender equality to be a reality because the world cannot progress and develop as it should when it has “one eye covered”. She called for “women’s empowerment and gender equality all the way”, stressing that as long as women and girls, who constitute half of humanity, do not enjoy their full range of human rights, the world will not reach its full potential for human progress or development.

The activists rallied to celebrate International Women’s Day 2015 and marked the 20th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, adopted at the Fourth UN World Conference for Women in 1995.

The march took place ahead of the opening of the 59th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW59), meeting at UN Headquarters from 9-20 March. Education International (EI)’s delegation to the CSW59 includes women union leaders from 10 countries who will participate in the hundreds of events taking place in New York over the coming days. The EI delegation is part of the 100-strong labour delegation including delegates from the International Trade Union Confederation(ITUC), Pubic Services International(PSI)and the Canadian Labour Congress.