though they make up half the population, women and girls have
endured discrimination in most societies for thousands of
years. In the past, women were treated as property of their
husbands or fathers - they couldn't own land, they couldn't
vote or go to school, and were subject to beatings and abuse
and could do nothing about it. Over the last hundred years,
much progress has been made to gain equal rights for women
around the world, but many still live without the rights to
which all people are entitled.
United Nations Charter was a major milestone for women's rights
because it was the first international agreement to affirm
the equality between men and women. Since then, the UN has
been an important advocate for the rights of women. The UN
adopted an international bill of rights for women in 1979
and sponsored four global women's conferences. The Millennium
Development Goals, which all nations agreed to at the UN in
2000, sets tangible goals for nations to achieve by 2015,
several of which deal directly with empowering women.
Women's Day on March 8 and Women's Equality Day,
on August 26 (commemorating the certification of the 19th
Amendment which granted women the right to vote), are important
annual rallying points to help eliminate discrimination and
build support for the rights of women everywhere.