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Women’s Day 2014: Equality for Women is Progress for All

International Women's Day is an occasion to take stock of progress made towards achieving gender equality and women's empowerment. Although progress has been made, we are still a long way from achieving gender equality worldwide. There is no single country in the world where women have achieved full equality and full enjoyment of their rights. This alone should emphasise the need to keep a strong focus on gender equality and women's rights in the post-2015 development agenda. Women have a vital contribution to make to the achievement of peaceful and sustainable societies. We need to ensure that they participate fully and enjoy equal rights in all domains.

 My conviction is clear - empowering women is a frontline for building a more peaceful and just world.     

Irina Bokova, UNESCO Director General on International Women’s Day 2014

UNESCO is working in all it areas of competence to promote gender equality and women's rights. Gender Equality has been one of our two global priorities since 2008 and will continue to be a priority for the organisation. We use both gender mainstreaming and gender-specific programming to ensure that we promote gender equality and women's rights through all our activities.

See our Gender Equality Action Plan, 2014-2021


  • Ensuring quality education at all levels for girls and women
  • Tackling women's illiteracy
  • Encouraging women's leadership in the natural sciences
  • Shaping gender sensitive policies for social inclusion
  • Promoting young women's equal participation in decision making and social transformation
  • Ensuring women have an equal role in the identification and preservation of cultural heritage
  • Encouraging women's creativity and contribution to culture
  • Making the world media gender-sensitive
  • Encouraging girls and women's equal access to ICTs


First celebrated over 100 years ago, International Women’s Day has grown into a global celebration of past struggles and accomplishments of women, and more importantly an opportunity to look ahead to the untapped potential and opportunities that await future generations of women. 

Celebrated by the UN since 1975, this year’s Day is dedicated to the “Equality for Women is Progress for All”.  In 1945 the Charter of the United Nations became the first international agreement to affirm the principal of equality between women and men.  

UNESCO, in turn, as the lead UN agency for Education, Science and Culture has named gender equality as one of its two global priorities.  

"We must support women in becoming leaders in all fields of human endeavour" said UNESCO’s Director-General Irina Bokova.


EVENTS in Paris

UNESCO Working Papers on Gender Equality : Gender Equality in Small Island Developing States


  • 31 million girls of primary school age are not in school (UNESCO 2013)

  • Three women die each day as a result of domestic violence (National Network to End Domestic Violence)

  • Two thirds of the world's 774 million illiterates are women (UNESCO 2013)

  • Only 21.4 per cent of members of national legislatures are women (IPU 2013).

  • Women account for two thirds of the world's poorest citizens (UNESCO 2014)

  • One in nine girls worldwide marries before the age of fifteen (UN Women 2013)

UNESCO - Women In Science Interactive