Administrator’s Statement on International Women’s Day, 8 March. Theme: “The Time is Now: Rural and Urban Activists Transforming Women’s Lives”


Women’s movements dominate today’s global conversation. From #MeToo and #TimesUp spotlighting sexual harassment and abuse, to #NiUnaMenos, the not one less movement protesting femicide, women voices demanding equality have crossed the globe, and a palpable feeling of change is in the air.

These movements and marches infuse this year’s International Women’s Day with special meaning. Today, we celebrate the activists who work tirelessly to “speak truth to patriarchy” and push all of us to achieve equal rights for women.   

The Time is Now to end sexual harassment and abuse. Preventing this behavior is our collective moral imperative, and it must be eradicated wherever it is found. We must all work together to change our cultures and create safe spaces for reporting.

The Time is Now to end violence against women. 49 countries lack laws protecting women from domestic violence, and in 37 countries perpetrators of rape are exempt from prosecution if they are married to or subsequently marry the victim.  

The Time is Now to promote women’s political participation.  Women make up only 23.5% of the world’s parliamentarians.  The world needs women to have an equal voice in decision making. 

The Time is Now to close the gender wage gap.  The global gender wage gap is 23%, and will take 100 years to close at the current rate of change.  We need to value women’s work and reduce their disproportionate burden of unpaid care and domestic work.  This work deprives women of time to earn money and engage in public life, and deprives communities and nations of women’s full contributions.   

The Time is Now to ensure that rural women have equal opportunities. 43% of the global agricultural workers are women, and rural women comprise the majority of these workers.  They need equal access to resources, information, and decision-making. Despite their vital roles in growing food, and critically in adapting and building resilience to climate change, rural women fare worse than rural men or urban women on almost every measure of development.

The Time is Now to celebrate activists working on women’s equality and rights.  

On this International Women’s Day, join me in celebrating them and honoring their work in the best way possible: by redoubling our efforts to build a world free of discrimination and exclusion and make it possible for all women and men to live lives of dignity and opportunity. 

They have created a momentum for change that builds on the promises of the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals. 

These 17 goals—which range from ending poverty, to boosting equitable growth and achieving quality education for all—are strongly interconnected, and gender equality is pivotal to achieving all of them. That means that all of us have a role to play in supporting women’s empowerment, at home, in our communities—and in the workplace.

Together, by achieving women’s equality and the 2030 Agenda, we can ensure that no woman is left behind.