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International Women’s Day 2015: Re-Thinking Women’s Empowerment and Gender Equality in 2015 and beyond

To celebrate International Women’s Day, and in the framework of the celebration of the twentieth anniversary  of the Beijing Declaration and the Platform for Action adopted in Beijing at the Fourth World Conference on Women in 1995, UNESCO is organizing a Conference on the theme “Re-thinking Women’s Empowerment and Gender Equality in 2015 and beyond”.

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 emphasize 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.

 In moving forward, we must support women’s empowerment as a transformational force for human rights, for economic growth, for sustainability – and place gender equality at the heart of all development efforts.    

Irina Bokova, UNESCO Director-General on International Women’s Day 2015

Discover here our Director-General full Message on the occasion of International Women's Day 2015



Beijing +20: measuring progress and challenges that remain

Against the background of the Beijing Declaration and the Platform for Action adopted twenty years ago in Beijing at the Fourth World Conference on Women, the Millennium Development Goals  (MDGs) and the Education For All (EFA) objectives, both set in 2000 for 2015, and the preparations for the Post-2015 agenda, 2015 is a pivotal year to take stock of the challenges ahead and to explore ways to accelerate the pace of change in achieving gender equality.

In a context where the world struggles with crises of unprecedented gravity that exacerbate poverty levels, deepen inequalities and heighten our awareness of the fragility of peace and stability, it would be easy for women’s rights and gender equality to be eclipsed and deprioritized. Yet one clear message of the Beijing Platform is that gender equality is fundamental for achieving the goals of development and peace – it thus needs to be incorporated as part of the answer and response to crises, rather than relegated to a “wish list” for more prosperous and propitious times. 

Hence, this Conference will be the opportunity to discuss with experts, politicians and activists who participated in the elaboration of the Beijing Declaration, the progress that has been made since 1995, the challenges that remain and the solutions that we can provide in order to reach gender equality in the post-2015 agenda.

Learn more about the progress made and the remaining obstacles since 1995 by reading our background paper.

A bit of history: International Women’s Day, back to 1975

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 celebrated under the theme of “Re-Thinking Women’s Empowerment and Gender Equality in 2015 and beyond”.  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.  

Click here to learn more about the 8 of March.


Events 2015 in Paris

 Click here to read the full report of the Conference.

  • Launch of Women Make the News initiative: Special International Gender and Media Side Event of the Fifty-ninth Session of the Commission on the Status of Women (Beijing+20) in March 2015

Click here to learn more about the event!

Events 2015 in field offices


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

  • 35% of women worldwide have experienced either physical and/or sexual violence (WHO 2013)

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

  • Only 21.9 per cent of members of national legislatures are women (IPU 2014)

  • 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)

Related information

IWD 2015 around the world

Empowering women: our stories

  • Discover here our Human Interest Story that Amman Office developed on one of our Women’s empowerment project intertwining gender and culture for development.
  • Click here to read our report "Gender Equality: Heritage and Creativity"

Spread the word!

Use the Hashtags #Unesco and #IWD2015 to talk about your experience of International Women's Day 2015.

UNESCO's IWD previous editions

2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005

UNESCO and gender equality

UNESCO's commitment to Gender Equality

UNESCO is working in all its 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. UNESCO is actively working to ensure that the rights and interests of girls and women, as well as of boys and men, are protected, and awareness is raised of the gender-specific dimensions of crises and conflicts amongst stakeholders and governments. For that purpose, we use both gender mainstreaming and gender-specific programming to ensure that we promote gender equality and women's rights through all our activities.

Read here our Gender Equality Priority Action Plan for 2014-2021 and visit our Division for Gender Equality's website!


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