The important roles of women in global development took center stage at the IAEA this week in celebrations marking International Women's Day.
This year's theme - Women and Climate Change - was underlined by Dr. Renate Christ, Secretary of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), in a keynote address. Women are on the front lines when it comes to the impact of climate change in developing countries, she said. "They are often involved in activities that are dependent on natural resources, such as agriculture," she noted, areas that are clearly affected by environmental change.
Not only are women heavily involved in food production, but they additionally are central to progress in achieving goals for health care. Women in poorer countries bear the brunt of diseases such as malaria and Dengue Fever, said Dr. Matthias Lademann, Director of the Joint VIC Medical Service, in his remarks.
Two initiatives spearheaded by women were highlighted:
- One was the launch of the Austria Chapter of Women in International Security (WIIS). WIIS - with 1500 members in 47 countries - is the only global network actively advancing women's leadership, at all stages of their careers, in the international peace and security field. The Austria Chapter will work to enhance the policy debate on topics of international peace and security by organizing panel discussions and networking events in Vienna.
- The second initiative was an update on the IAEA Chapter of Women in Nuclear (WiN) by Eva Gyane, its current President. As a worldwide group of 2500 members in 68 chapters, WiN promotes the understanding and public awareness of nuclear and radiation applications.
The day's events were opened with a message from United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon. He focused on violence against women, calling for ab end to "the habitual and socially ingrained violence that mars lives, destroys health perpetuates poverty and prevents us from achieving women's equality and empowerment."
The first International Women's Day (IWD) was honoured on 19 March 1911 by the countries of Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland. It was there that more than one million men and women attended the rallies campaigning for many issues such as women's rights to work, vote and a call for an end to discrimination.
IWD is an official holiday in China, Armenia, Russia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bulgaria, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Macedonia, Moldova, Mongolia, Tajikistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan and Vietnam.