International Women’s Day (IWD) is celebrated around the world on the 8th of March and is a day to reflect on how far we have come and how far we still have to go to truly achieve gender equality. Progress and real development will only be possible if all people have equal rights and opportunities to thrive. Meeting that goal requires recognizing that women and girls face particular barriers and have different needs. And then taking deliberate steps so that no woman or girl is left behind, regardless of where she lives or how much she earns, or where she comes from.

Echoing the priority theme of the upcoming 63rd  session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women, “Social protection systems, access to public services and sustainable infrastructure for gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls”, the theme for International Women’s Day 2019 explores the ways in which innovation can work for gender equality, boost investment in gender-responsive social systems, and build public services and infrastructure that meet the needs of women and girls.

According to UN Women research, these thematic agendas are critical at a time when social innovations have the potential of providing unprecedented solutions to meet the needs of marginalized women and those at the bottom of the pyramid:

  • 740 million women currently make their living in the informal economy with limited access to social protection, public services and infrastructure that could increase their productivity and income security.
  • Women do 2.6 times more unpaid care and domestic work than men, with only 41 per cent of the world’s mothers with newborns receiving maternity benefits.
  • One in three women are likely to face violence in their lifetimes, yet public services, urban planning and transport systems are rarely planned with women’s safety and mobility in mind.

This women’s day we thus remind ourselves that women and girls are often foremost among those who suffer from the lack of public services and social protection, undermining their rights and negatively impacting their well-being. Adequate social protection requires innovative approaches to increase the quality and affordability for women users, responding to constraints that women face in accessing those services.

We remain committed to providing new insights and solutions for social protection, making social protection floors a reality for all. Join us in supporting #WomensDay and UN Women in their efforts.