Women of Color Day & Kofi Annan speech for International Women's Day 2003
- Women of Color Day - March 1st, 2003 &
International Women's Day- March 8th, 2003
Last Saturday, March 1st, was International Women of Colour Day.
Sat. 8 March is International Women's Day, and below is the text of
Kofi Annan's message for International Women's Day 2003.
8 March still gets more attention from many people and organisations
than does International Women of Color Day, founded 15 years ago
in 1988, by National Institute for Women of Color.
But International Women's Day is NOT ENOUGH, and attention to
"women" in generalities, and the 'generic woman' also is not enough.
In the world, 50 per cent of people infected with HIV are women, but
in AFRICA, WOMEN -including many who are really young girls-
are 58% of those who are living with HIV.
Why the huge disparity that places African women in greater, mortal
Yet if we really want to better undertand - here's a question for all of us
on this list who are research-oriented - and to the United Nations: in the
AMERICAS what percentage of all known HIV/AIDS cases are among
Black, Native and Latina women? In the Caribbean and Central, South and
That is, among women of color in the Americas?
To focus on the historical, racial trends in the Americas which date back to
about the year 1500AD, I omit Asian/Pacific women, who also are women of
The answers to this question on HIV/AIDS, Gender and Race in the Americas
are just one example of the world's disparities WITHIN gender and based upon
Those answers and similar ones from other regions of the world will show why
WOMEN OF COLOR DAY on March 1st annually, should and will gain international
And perhaps someday soon Kofi Annan and others will also give specific
attention to the realities of Women of Color. Women's lives depend upon it.
Suzanne Brooks' Women of Color Day website: www.womenofcolorday.com
PO Box 14899, Nairobi, Kenya
Message of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan
for International Women's Day
Sunday, 8 March, 2003
The Millennium Development Goals -- including the promotion of gender
equality and the empowerment of women -- represent a new way of doing
development business. These eight commitments drawn from the Millennium
Declaration, which was endorsed by all Member States of the United
Nations, form a specific, targeted and time-bound blueprint for building a
better world in the 21st century. They represent a set of simple but
powerful and measurable objectives that every woman and man in the street,
from New York to Nairobi to New Delhi, can easily support and understand.
In our work to reach those objectives, as the Millennium Declaration made
clear, gender equality is not only a goal in its own right; it is critical
our ability to reach all the others. Study after study has shown that
there is no effective development strategy in which women do not play
a central role.
When women are fully involved, the benefits can be seen immediately:
families are healthier and better fed; their income, savings and
reinvestment go up. And what is true of families is also true of communities
and, in the long run, of whole countries.
That means that all our work for development -- from agriculture to health,
from environmental protection to water resource management -- must focus
on the needs and priorities of women. It means promoting the education of
girls, who form the majority of the children who are not in school. It means
bringing literacy to the half billion adult women who cannot read or
write -- and who make up two thirds of the world's adult illiterates.
And it means placing women at the centre of our fight against HIV/AIDS.
Women now account for 50 per cent of those infected with HIV worldwide.
In Africa, that figure is now 58 per cent. We must make sure that women and
girls have all the skills, services and self-confidence they need to protect
themselves. We must encourage men to replace risk-taking with taking
responsibility. Across all levels of society, we need to see a deep social
revolution that transforms relationships between women and men, so that
women will be able to take greater control of their lives -- financially as
well as physically.
There is no time to lose if we are to reach the Millennium Development Goals
by the target date of 2015. Only by investing in the world's women can we
expect to get there. When women thrive, all of society benefits, and
succeeding generations are given a better start in life. On this
International Women's Day, I call on all of us to act with renewed urgency
on that understanding.
For more information on the celebration of International Women's Day 2003 in
the United Nations, please see