The first International Women's Day was held in 1911 and since then onwards every 8th of March worldwide we celebrate the event at different levels whether international, regional or at local country level.  The International Planned Parenthood (IPPF) has called upon its affiliates and civil society organizations in Africa to meet and reflect in Nairobi on the Pre Conference Population and Development to increase support for the African position and engagement on the United Nations Post 2015 Development Agenda.  The meeting is reflecting seriously on progress made and equally paying tribute to the courageous acts and deeds of women.  It is also acknowledging the progress made for women's rights, women's empowerment and gender equality including the sacrifices and achievements of women who are shouldering reproductive, productive and community roles for the social, political and economic uplift of their countries.
No doubt women emancipation should be accounted to recognition of women as human beings having their own dignity requiring respect and equal opportunity in terms of access to services pertaining to education and their basic needs. Their own efforts coupled with appropriate economic gender policies put in place by the government have helped them to move up the social ladder. 37.8% of the labour force constitute of women in Mauritius. In addition to that many are busy in the informal sector. However we should not dissociate enlightened men’s contribution and support in women’s emancipation and progress made worldwide.
On the International Women’s Day we are called upon to reflect upon issues affecting women and the theme retained for this year is “Equality for Women is progress for all”, following last year celebration under the theme “A promise is a promise: Time for action to end violence against women” In spite of the consciousness raised on violence against women, exploitation, trafficking, aggression and abuses is still on-going. Out of every 3 women worldwide one undergoes violence and within the last two months in the Republic of Mauritius, six women were killed, humiliated and some mutilated and cut into pieces. What an atrocity, what a shame? Men have been accused of killing women when they are supposed to act as protectors! What is wrong with our socialization? Have our moral values degraded to that extent? Is there any inadequacy in the legal and religious framework within which our population evolves?  Should we caution crime because of infidelity, alcoholism, witchcraft, poverty? At present Oscar Pistorius famous South African athlete is under trial for alleged charges of killing his girlfriend on Valentine’s Day last year. Is this love, excess of love or weakness in love?   Who created all those sins and who is responsible for that?  It is high time for in-depth reflection of our own behaviour as we are all responsible.
The demographic indicators show that Mauritius is heading towards an ageing population with increasing single and female headed families, feminization of ageing and poverty.  On 12th March we will be celebrating our 46th Independence Day: could we say that we are really independent and can women live freely without any fear or agony?   If some would say no then we should cry my beloved country, Inspire for change in mentality, that women should not be considered as objects that can be used and destroyed for some unscrupulous men’s convenience.
Men committing crimes against women have been giving a serious blow to men who have been women protectors, safeguards and acting as torchbearers in the world.  Recently the Ministry of Gender Equality, Child Development and Family Welfare together with the bereaved families who had one of their female member assassinated organized a march in Port-Louis and many men participated. Kudos to those men, who were on the streets, to protest and to fight for a common cause.  Interestingly only two men parliamentarians were present at the march, though out of about 900,000 voters, about 51% were women who elected men in majority to represent them in parliament.
It is to be noted that no country in the world has achieved equality between women and men and girls and boys.   Both men and women are complementary and neither men nor women should exert pressure to claim superiority.  Both together they make the whole universe. Violating women and girls rights is an offence.  We should build on the lessons learned that equality for women is progress for all in order to achieve bolder progress to attain the Millennium Development Goals. I would like to include a beautiful quote “Women have served all these centuries as looking glasses possessing the magic and delicious power of reflecting the figure of a man at twice its natural size”
A baby girl born should face no inequality or discrimination.  As a respectable nation we all have the common obligation to ensure that the baby girl who will later grow as a daughter, sister, wife,  equally as a woman has her right to live free from any form of violence and that she earns equal pay for equal work; be free of any form of discrimination that prevents her from participating in the social and economic development of her country;  have an equal say in the decisions that affect her  family life; and to decide when and how many children she will have in order to reach her full potential.