Press Releases International Women’s Day – needed more than ever

International Women’s Day – needed more than ever

In 2024 we commemorate the 45th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and the 25th anniversary of the Optional Protocol to this Convention. The importance of this Convention as an instrument against discrimination and violence against women and girls cannot be underestimated, especially in the current context in which women’s rights are under pressure worldwide. Although 189 states have ratified the Treaty, its implementation continues to lag behind. No country in the world has managed to eliminate all forms of discrimination against women or achieve full gender equality.

Despite progress in recent decades, women’s rights are under pressure worldwide. Today, March 8, International Women’s Rights Day takes place again in a context of geopolitical conflicts, climate change and other complex crises. Although they affect everyone to a greater or lesser extent, these crises put additional pressure on existing inequalities, as well as the human rights of women and girls.

Sad examples are the suppression of women’s rights in Iran, the almost complete exclusion of women and girls from public life in Afghanistan and the impact of conflicts in Ukraine, Gaza and other wars on women and girls. But there is still a long way to go for the full realisation of women’s rights in Europe and Belgium, for example regarding gender-based violence, the pay gap, or the consequences of global underinvestment in the health of women and girls.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs confirms: “On March 8, we will put extra emphasis on the contribution of women and girls and draw attention to the importance of women’s rights worldwide. Equality in public life, in decisions, in everything we do – we include this in every aspect of our foreign policy. But let’s be clear: for Belgian diplomacy, every day is Women’s Day. Gender equality is always on our agenda.”

Gender equality is since long a priority for Belgian development cooperation, within the framework of bilateral, non-governmental and multilateral cooperation. With a two-pronged approach that combines both transversal gender integration and specific actions, our international cooperation continues to support women and girls in partner countries. By working in various areas of intervention – such as women participation, the fight against sexual and gender-based violence, stimulating economic empowerment, focus on social norms and gender stereotypes or also on universal access to health care and sexual and reproductive rights – the Belgian international cooperation contributes towards achieving Sustainable Development Goal No. 5.

The Minister of Development Cooperation: “Equal rights for women and men are one of the Sustainable Development Goals for 2030. But at the current pace of progress, it will take another 131 years for gender equality to become a reality. Worldwide we even see that women’s rights are increasingly under pressure. That is why International Women’s Day is still so important. To remind us that the work is not finished. That acquired rights can be restricted or rolled back. That is why we must keep fighting. Gender equality is therefore one of the core values of Belgian International Solidarity. Because where women and girls get equal opportunities, go to school and make their own choices, the entire society improves.”

Belgian diplomacy will continue to mobilise for women’s rights and gender equality in 2024, both during bilateral contacts, in multilateral forums and within the European Union, including during the current Belgian Presidency of the Council of the EU.

Wouter Poels, spokesperson – porte-parole – woordvoerder

TEL +32 2 501 84 29, GSM +32 477 40 32 12,



Nicolas Fierens Gevaert, spokesperson – porte-parole – woordvoerder

TEL +32 2 501 87 66, GSM +32 471 44 06 04,


David Jordens, spokesperson – porte-parole – woordvoerder

TEL +32 2 501 80 50, GSM +32 478 92 09 37,


Foreign Affairs / Affaires étrangères / Buitenlandse Zaken
Rue des Petits Carmes / Karmelietenstraat 15
Brussels 1000 – Belgium

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