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In pictures: Celebrating Intl Women's Day around the world

Source: Fri, 7 Mar 2014 12:29 GMT
Author: Shadi Bushra
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LONDON, March 7 (Reuters) -  Depending on where you are or who you are, the struggle for gender equality can mean anything from fighting for equal pay to encouraging your daughters to push the boundaries of what they can achieve.

Since International Women's Day was first celebrated in its current form 100 years ago in 1914, many parts of the world have signed on to norms guaranteeing legal equality between genders.

In the public sphere, some of the most powerful positions in the world are held by women, including the head of the U.S. Federal Reserve, and the political leaders of Europe and South America's largest economies, Germany and Brazil.

The global gender gap between men and women's health, as well as the education gap, are close to being closed, according to the World Economic Forum's (WEF) 2013 Global Gender Gap Report.

But these remarkable advances exist alongside a patchy application of other equal rights principles in other areas and in sharp contrast with the everyday realities of many countries.

Women's economic participation and political empowerment remain well below that of men's, the WEF said.

The right to vote, the basic prerequisite to equal political participation, is not yet universal, with, for example, Saudi Arabia and Vatican City not yet offering the same voting rights to women as to men.

Saudi Arabia has said it will extend the same rights it offers men to women, allowing them to vote in local elections starting next year. However, women in the conservative kingdom still cannot travel without a male relative's permission, or drive a car.

And even in those countries that have equal political participation, women often earn a fraction of what men make for similar work, and remain underrepresented in economic and political leadership positions.

The WEF report notes a strong correlation between a country's overall gender gap – in health, education, economic and political - and a country’s competitiveness.

"Because women account for one-half of a country’s potential talent base, a nation’s competitiveness in the long term depends significantly on whether and how it educates and utilizes its women," the report said.

But there is another way to gauge the progress made: the ambitions and aspirations of a new generation of women who will inherit the world their mothers sought to reshape for their benefit.

Across the world, Reuters asked mothers about their own dreams and the hopes they had for their daughters.

The responses were as varied as the countries they live in. Some mothers and daughters were on the same page, like Rosaura Realsola in Mexico, who hopes her daughter Alexandra Yamileth, 13, will become a nurse, a dream Alexandra shares.

Others were less in agreement, although ultimately they simply wanted their daughters to be happy.

Mariam Khaled Masto, a nine-year-old in Deir al-Zor in Syria, wants to become an Arabic teacher while her mother would prefer her to become a pharmacist.

"I have high ambitions for my daughter," said her mother, Bidaa Mhem Thabet al-Hasan. "But I will let her choose and follow her ambitions. Her success will make me happy."

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