Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka
UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka at last week's Commission on the Status of Women curtain raiser press conference.

NEW YORK (WOMENSENEWS)–The thousands of people who participated in New York’s March 8 International Women’s Day march demanded actions that would go beyond awareness raising on issues that women and girls are facing every day.

"Make it happen," U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told a cheering crowd on Sunday.

UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka echoed that call to action, urging changes within a "timeframe" as she and other speakers pointed out "too slow progress."

The first lady of New York, Chirlane McCray, reminded the crowd that the city was a pioneer in women’s rights. "Today you are marching in the footsteps of generations of feminists, many of whom called New York City home," she said. "International Women’s Day started right here in 1908. Fifteen thousand women marched through these streets demanding better pay, demanding voting rights and demanding shorter work hours."

McCray boasted of the pro-women policies by her husband, Bill de Blasio, since his election as mayor of the city. She recalled that last November New York was the first U.S. city to join the Safe Cities Global Initiative to make the streets and public spaces free of sexual harassment.

Proud of her "feminist" family, McCray told the crowd how her husband helped her raise their two children and described her son as a "feminist to the bone."

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