IWD 2024: For democracy that upholds women's rights and gender justice

Mar 2024

Looking back on our collective achievements over the past four years, our progress towards equality has been truly inspiring. Our collective endeavours have yielded tangible results – safer workplaces free from gender-based violence, crucial laws that protect women’s labour rights, collective bargaining agreements that enhanced women’s protections, and more.

However, the road ahead is fraught with challenges, especially amidst the chilling trends of backsliding democracy and consequent shrinking civic space. The surge of populism, authoritarianism, and fundamentalism threatens not only democracy but also the hard-won rights of women. Our progress and gains are under serious attack.

Indeed, the protection and expansion of women's rights are inseparable from the essence of democracy itself. There is no genuine democracy if the voices of women, diverse and marginalised sectors are suppressed, if women feel unsafe, if they lack equal opportunities in society, or if their fundamental rights are violated.

Women are not passive bystanders in the struggle for genuine democracy that respects and upholds human, women’s and workers’ rights. They are powerful catalysts, architects, defenders, and guardians of transparent and inclusive governance.  However, to fully exemplify the true power of women's leadership, they must not only occupy seats at the table but also actively shape policies and influence decisions that impact our lives.

In this critical juncture, we issue a resounding call for solidarity to safeguard the very soul of democracy. We must resist any attempts to undermine hard-won rights and amplify the voices of those silenced by oppression, violence, and discrimination. We stand firmly united with every woman and worker whose rights are violated and advocate tirelessly for their dignity and justice. The time to act is now, and we urge our affiliates to join us in this critical crusade.

Know that you will not face these challenges alone. Your ITUC-Asia Pacific family will stand by your side as we work together toward a future where gender justice and genuine democracy are a lived reality for all. We will actively engage in social dialogue and advance policies and protections that prioritise the safety, dignity, and rights of women. We will not be silent in the face of violence, harassment, and threats to democracy and rights. Using our collective strength in bargaining and negotiations, we will redouble our efforts towards improving the well-being of women, workers, and their families. We commit to holding governments accountable for their international human rights obligations.

Once again, women will be at the heart of our efforts, ensuring that their voices are not only heard but also respected and valued.

The International Women's Day carries profound significance. It's not merely a commemoration – it heralds the dawn of a renewed movement dedicated to safeguarding women's rights and democracy at any cost. Because if we fail to act swiftly and united, the sacrifices of countless women and trailblazers who paved the way for the rights and freedoms we cherish today could be undone.

Thank you for your unwavering commitment and tireless efforts to prevent the rollback of rights and democracy from happening in our lifetime. Let's forge ahead, united in our quest for a just and equitable future for all.

Happy International Women's Day! Let’s stand together in solidarity and continue the fight for a genuine democracy that upholds women's rights and gender justice.