On March 8, 1857, the Jewish and Irish immigrant women textile workers of the Cotton Textile Factory in New York were doing their daily work in this factory. Suddenly, a fire came from the warehouse in which they sewed the shirts. alerted everyone, the smoke began to spread throughout the factory, the screams coming from the place were heartbreaking with no hope of getting out, because the owners of the factory locked the women up so as not to join the "bread and roses movement”, a movement that fought for women to have better pay, better treatment, and the right to vote.

The smoke was so suffocating and dense that they could not scream, the fire was so hot that it prevented them from seeing, their skin burned, some women tried to help other women, however, being locked in they could not get out. They fought until the last moment, but, unfortunately and unfairly, 146 working women were burned to death that day.

This unfortunate event reminds me of the immense number of stories of women who have been harassed, discriminated against, attacked, raped and even murdered. Maybe they felt the same as those working women, the fire entered and melted their skin, fighting every second, screaming even though they couldn't because of the smoke, and trying to escape, but no one helped them. It is for this reason and many more unfortunate and violent events that every March 8, since 1975 (formalized by the United Nations), women's fight for equality, recognition and their rights is commemorated worldwide.

What is gender violence?

The United Nations defines violence against women as:

"Any act of gender violence that results, or may result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public life as in private."
The United Nations.

These are some examples and alarming data of violence:

Did you know..?

1. In Mexico, 9.8 million girls and women were victims of cyberbullying in 2021. (INEGI, 2023). In Europe, 10% of girls and women have experienced cyberbullying since the age of 15, such as emails, SMS messages, photographs, audios, sexually implicit and offensive (FRA, 2014). And in Korea, in 2016, 85% of women received violent messages of a sexual and hate against women. (NHRCK, 2017).

2. Based on the World Health Organization, in 2021, they reported that, around the world, 736 million women and girls have been victims of sexual and/or physical violence by their romantic partner or close people. One in four women adolescents in the world have suffered this type of violence.

3. In 2022, the UNODC (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime) reported that 91% of victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation are women and girls.

4. Child marriage. Today, more than 650 million girls are forced into marriage. (UNFPA, 2022).

5. In the world there are 31 countries in which female mutilation is practiced. More than 200 million women and girls have been subjected to these practices. There are countries where nine out of 10 girls are forced into these practices. (DESA, 2020).

6. Less than 40% of violated women and girls seek help and less than 10% of those who seek help report to government institutions.

7. 73% of female journalists in the world have experienced sexist violence online and 20% were victims of physical and sexual, offline abuse. (Interparliamentary Union, 2016).

8. According to the UN and UNODC, in 2021, 81,000 women and girls were intentionally murdered, 56% of these femicides were committed by intimate partners and/or close people (family, friends, etc.) It is impressive! More than five women or girls are murdered every hour by someone in their own family! In my country (Mexico), more than 10 women are murdered a day!

That is why this date is so significant, it makes us remember and commit to doing everything possible to break and overcome deep-rooted prejudices, support participation, and of course, activism, to break violence and the gender gap in all areas. And build an egalitarian society, free of violence and with equal rights.

What can we do?

I was reading an article from the UN about ways we can make change safely and effectively; I found it very relevant to write and share this with you. These are the actions we can take:

1. “I hear you and I believe you.” It is very important to listen to and believe the women who share their story of abuse with us, as it is the first step to breaking that violence. You should never blame the victim or make them feel that way, since nothing justifies an act of violence. What we can do is listen and accompany her so that justice is done.

2. “Let's teach the next generation not to repeat these patterns and learn from it.” Let's have conversations with our sons and daughters about respect, values and human rights, promoting a culture of acceptance and respect.

3. Let us demand adequate services for victims. We need shelters for survivors, hotlines, advice and support in our communities and cities. Let us join together to invite and encourage governments to finance these entities and generate quality services that are directed and guided by experts.

4. Let's actively participate in social networks, sharing information, support telephone lines, hashtags, UN images, etc., we do not know if someone around us is suffering violence and this will help them.

5. Let's question our behaviors, actions and beliefs so as not to normalize a violent culture.

6. We can make donations and/or offer our help to women's survivor organizations and shelters.

Let's be responsible and demand responsibilities from others, let's promote a safer environment by inviting our friends to reflect on their behaviors. If we see an act of violence, let's help or ask someone else for help. Violence against women is a matter for all of us and for society in general. It's everyone's responsability!

Let's be the people who could help those 146 women, let's listen to their screams and break the door so they can leave, let's not be the people who locked these women up and took their lives.

Tell us, have you suffered any type of violence? How would you help someone who is going through something like this? Are there support and advice institutions in your community or city?

I read you in the comments. Thanks for reading me!


DESA (United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs), Statistics Division (2020). Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.

FRA European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (2014). Gender-based violence against women: an EU-wide survey, p. 104.

INEGI (Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Geografía). (2023). Module on Cyberbullying (MOCIBA). Available here.

Interparliamentary Union (2016). Sexism, harassment and violence against women parliamentarians, p. 3.

National Human Rights Commission of Korea, Sung Soo Hong et al. (2017). The situation of hate speech and regulatory measures to combat hate speech.

UNFPA (United Nations Population Fund). (2022). Frequently asked questions about child marriage.

UNODC (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime). (2022). Global Report on Trafficking in Persons 2022, págs. 25 y 33.

UNODC and UN Women. (2022). Gender-based murders of women and girls in the private sphere in 2021.

World Health Organization (2021). Violence against women prevalence estimates, 2018.