Austria's Trailblazing Women on International Women's Day
Although women have been historically seen as the weaker sex and treated as second-class citizens, they have achieved incredible things and made powerful contributions to society against all odds. International Women's Day is intended to draw attention to the importance of gender equality today - everyone deserves a fair chance and equal opportunities.
International Women's Day
International Women's Day is observed to highlight equal opportunities and rights for women. It is a means to promote equality in all aspects of life including politics and society regardless of gender. When dealing with issues such as climate change, globalisation etc it is clear that women have contributed enormously. An excellent example is the climate protection activist Greta Thunberg.
5 Trailblazing Women from Austria
Austrian women have made important contributions in all walks of life including history, science and politics.
Archduchess Maria Theresia is of great importance in the development and history of Austria. Although she was never crowned Empress, she is often referred to as such. As the wife of Emperor Franz Stephan I, she was responsible for business and decisions and led the Habsburg monarchy. She also carried out many reforms. For instance, she had the penal code re-written and abolished torture. She also reorganised the army and demanded that the church submit to the state. The first military academy in Wiener Neustadt was named after her. The best-known reform, however, was the introduction of compulsory education. She and her husband had 16 children and her public image was inextricably connected to motherhood. Maria Theresa died in 1780 but her important deeds continue to be commemorated by various monuments all around Austria to this day.
Ute Bock is also one of the most important women in Austrian history. She was a human rights activist who campaigned for refugees and asylum seekers and founded the association “Flüchtlingsprojekt Ute Bock” in 2002 to help refugees. Asylum seekers living in Vienna can find all kinds of support here. She passed away in 2018 but she is still considered a great role model for solidarity, civil courage and, above all, humanity.
Bertha von Suttner
The pacifist and writer Bertha von Suttner was the first woman in the world to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1905 for the pacifist novel Die Waffen Nieder! (Lay Down Your Arms!) She wrote about disarmament and peace and campaigned for equality and women's rights. Together with her husband she founded the "Österreichische Gesellschaft der Friedensfreunde" (Austrian Society of Friends of Peace) also known as the Suttner Society, which she led until her death. She also took part in many peace congresses and was influential in the first Hague Peace Conference in The Hague.
Johanna Dohnal was interested in politics from an early age and joined the SPÖ (Austrian People's Party) in 1957, where she was primarily involved in organising party-related and children's events. From state secretary for women of the SPÖ to Vienna municipal councillor and member of the state parliament, Dohnal made important contributions to politics. As the first women's minister in Austria, she established an important precedent for equal opportunities in politics. The feminist and former SPÖ politician set many milestones for women's rights and gender equality.
Austrian women have made important contributions in science as well. Lise Meitner, a nuclear physicist from Vienna, played a crucial role in science and research. In those days it was difficult to study at university - especially for women. Nevertheless, she was the second woman to complete her studies in physics, chemistry, mathematics and philosophy with a doctorate. She became known for providing the first explanation in theoretical physics for nuclear fission, which she published together with her nephew.
5 Reasons Why International Women's Day is Important
Strengthening Women's Rights
Unfortunately, women continue to face discrimination and unfair conditions today. The role of women is often trampled on and not valued equally in society. It is therefore important now more than ever to stand for equal rights for all - regardless of gender, politics, nationality, etc.
Protection, Security and the Right to Self-Determination
Human trafficking, forced prostitution and forced marriage are issues that affect women far more than men. Access to education is also denied to many women. Although the right to education is part of human rights law, around 34 million girls around the world are not in school. Girls in South Asia, the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa are most commonly affected. These are among the reasons we should come together on International Women's Day every year and promote the security and independence of women.
Clear differences can also be seen in the pay of men and women. The Equal Pay Day, an international day of action for equal pay between the sexes, was introduced to bring attention to this topic. The aim is to ensure that men and women receive the same pay for the same work. In Austria, the Equal Pay Day was calculated to fall on February 15 this year while in Germany it will take place on March 7, 2022. This differs from country to country, since the difference in income between men and women used to calculate this day varies by country.
For an explanation of how the day is calculated, please click here: Equal Pay Day
Equal Opportunities in Managerial Positions
A law for the equal participation of men and women in management positions was passed in 2015 aiming to significantly increase the proportion of women in managerial positions in business and administration. However, there are still many companies where the proportion of women in managerial positions is very low and they have no say in company-wide decisions.
The Role of a Woman
Many people continue to think of the ideal woman as a traditional housewife who stays home to care for the children and run the household. But for women themselves, their idea of a future has changed significantly. For more and more women, a job and a career take precedence over starting a family.
Celebrate International Women's Day with us and get involved to ensure that women get equal opportunities everywhere and the right to self-determination.