International Women’s Day: not much to celebrate

This year, the situation is not looking good at all for gender equality for women and girls worldwide. "Progress in women’s rights won over decades is vanishing before our eyes," said UN Secretary-General António Guterres on the occasion of International Women’s Day. Crises, war and extremism are the main reasons why true equality is still 300 years away, he said. Europe’s press examines different levels of the problem.

La Stampa (IT) /

Abortion is also a right

The United Nations is right to criticise international abuses but it is not impartial, La Stampa complains:

“We wanted a future of equality but are now confronted with a present full of violence against women. Women who are abused and raped in conflicts, women who are victims of human trafficking, women who are denied the right to care, education, participation in public life, the right to vote, to protest and to political representation. Secretary General António Guterres mentions Afghanistan, the Sahel, Iran, but forgets to mention the US — the country which makes the largest financial contribution to the UN — where another women’s right, the nationwide right to abortion, no longer exists.”

Francesca Mannocchi
El País (ES) /

The protagonists are those without a voice

Writer Elvira Lindo calls in El País for feminism to have more social awareness:

“When the language of a social movement moves away from those whom it is supposed to represent, this inevitably produces a distancing, because there is nothing worse than not understanding those who are defending you. ... Feminism must not be claimed by a single group, nor should it lead to a dispute over who leads the movement. The main protagonists of this historic day are those whose will has been broken, women in Iran, in Pakistan, who suffer systematic violence, who flee from bombs, who are driven from their homes. ... Women without a voice, to whom we must lend ours so that they can express what they need to have a life worth living.”

Elvira Lindo
Frankfurter Rundschau (DE) /

Be aware of your privileges

If feminism wants to be successful, it must oppose every form of oppression, the Frankfurter Rundschau also stresses:

“The world is not just made up of men who oppress and women who are oppressed. ... Reflecting on inclusion and inequalities means becoming aware of one’s own position and privileges. The life of a Black woman who works as a cleaner is not the same as that of a White woman in a position of leadership. A White, slim and heterosexual academic may well have an easier time than a Black, lesbian, overweight woman without secondary school education. ... It’ time to do some soul-searching, to come down from our ivory towers and come to terms with the plurality of the world we live in.”

Sereina Donatsch
Primorske novice (SI) /

Powerful but still far from equal

Inequality is also engraved in people’s minds, Primorkse novice comments:

“The expectations of a myopic and stereotyped society still shape women’s consciences. Social norms ( A levels, university degree, work, home, marriage, children) are not yielding. ... Not to mention the violence against women, the bullying that paralyses them into helplessness and fear. On average, women still earn less than men in comparable jobs, they do a lot more of the household chores and are less represented in decision-making positions. Despite the pressure, the Slovenian woman of today holds power on all fronts: she takes care of the family, is proactive at work and acts as a psychologist for her friends.”

Ana Cukijati
The Irish Times (IE) /

Female politicians exposed to cyber hate

Women in leadership positions face much more hostility online than men, The Irish Times laments:

“Online spaces are a new frontier in the battle for gender equality, as women are disproportionately targeted for abuse and harassment. The resignations of Jacinda Ardern and Nicola Sturgeon prompted a global conversation about how politics has become an increasingly inhospitable place for women. In Ireland, where women’s representation in politics is lower than in China or Iraq, female politicians are forced to reckon with vile harassment, threats and dehumanisation.”