In honour of all women & their lives --International Women's Day

08 March 2015 -- Geneva, Switzerland -- Today will be 40 years since the world began celebrating International Women's Day.

It is a day for reflecting upon and recognizing all women from this world, their struggles and achievements, their suffering, their tears, their laughs, their dreams and hopes, their lives, their struggles. It is a day of thinking and recognizing why women's health is so important for us as humanity and why - in spite of huge progress made in the fights against TB, HIV, malaria, cancer, pregnancy and birth-related complications - we have a very long way to go.

Mothers, wives, girlfriends, girls, adolescents and lovers die unnecessarily every minute, every hour. Only TB alone kills one woman every minute - almost 1500 every day! TB alone - a disease we have known for thousands of years and that costs as little as USD$ 30 to cover six months of treatment. One woman dies of TB every minute!

And even when cured, TB leaves behind incredibly traumatic stories: stigma, poverty, infertility, deafness, children who are sick and infected....and tears, many tears. No nation can hope to move forward if its women and children are trapped in an endless cycle of poverty, when they don't have access to the healthcare services they need, when they cannot read or have a job, and when far too many of them die.

Today, on International Women's Day, let us reaffirm our commitment to prioritizing women's health and move forward with courage and determination. In moving forward, the world must ensure that women's empowerment and gender equality stand at the heart of our work and minds to craft a better future.

And we, women from all over the world, let us be together, shoulder to shoulder, of all ages, colours, sizes, religions and support each other, fight for each other, fight for those less lucky than us and their rights and health, for our lives and smiles!

We know very well how hard it is to be a woman -- "you must think like a man, act like a lady, look like a young girl and work like a horse" as someone said. But as hard as it appears to be, we have and will continue to do it!

Today, on International Women's day, from a woman to all women - I honour you all!

-- Dr Lucica Ditiu, Executive Secretary of the Stop TB Partnership