International Women’s Day is an opportunity to take stock of the progress achieved, call for changes and celebrate the acts of courage and determination of ordinary women who have played an extraordinary role in the history of their country and their community.
Being a woman generally means having the possibility to bear children, being able to express the wish and choice to have a child with the hope of being able to bring the child up in good conditions which make it possible to provide it with a future and the necessary autonomy within an inclusive, solidarity-based society.
However, becoming a mother can sometimes result in the woman losing her rights and freedom of choice when mentalities and/or living conditions are poor or deteriorate. She may have to give up work or on the other hand she may not be able to arrange and organise her working time. She is still too often perceived as having primary parenting responsibility and many are mothers in single-parent families. When disability affects a close family member, young or old, she is forced most of the time to care for that person on a day-to-day basis. To the detriment of her private, family and professional life, she becomes impoverished and is gradually excluded from world affairs if a family and social policy fails to fulfil its duty of solidarity.
International Women’s Day is also a renewed opportunity to express our outrage at the situation of women, whether or not they are mothers, who are forced into marriage, abused, mutilated, raped, beaten, slaughtered in a kind of uninterrupted massacre throughout the world. This day is also an opportunity to reiterate our admiration for women whose voice carries loud and clear messages of freedom, who defend the rights of other women, are sometimes made scapegoats and risk their life, and for those ever vigilant women who are called upon, time and time again, to defend hard-won freedoms such as access to education, contraception, abortion, integrity, etc.
For COFACE and COFACE-Disability, it seems absolutely crucial to consider, always and everywhere, women as holders of rights (and duties), whether or not they choose to be a mother. In our opinion, it is equally important to ensure that acquired rights are only re-discussed with a view to improving them and in all cases with women themselves. In our view there is an urgent need to change the perceptions and attitudes of society with regard to the education, rights and status of women.
 According to World Bank figures, rape and domestic violence represent a greater risk for women aged between 15 and 44, than cancer, road accidents, war and malaria combined.
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