Every year March 8th is a day recognised by hundreds of countries all over the globe as a day to consciously celebrate the achievements of women, and provide awareness about the issues many still face today.
One of the earliest women’s day events dates back to a 1909 rally in New York City where women demanded better pay, better hours and voting rights. The first known event in Europe happened in 1911 in a handful of countries including Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland. It wasn’t until 1975, though, that the United Nations officially declared March 8th as the United Nations Day for Women’s Rights and International Peace.
Each year since 1996, International Women’s Day has been themed so as to bring about public awareness to specific issues facing women. Themes have ranged from equal access to education, empowering women in their personal lives, and the fight to end violence against women. In 2011, former US President Barack Obama declared the month of March as Women’s History Month.
Why do we still celebrate?
Why is the need to celebrate International Women’s Day still important? The progress that we have seen in the past 100 years has made a significant impact in the lives of women all over the world. But unfortunately there is still much more work to be done. Research has estimated that complete gender equality is still easily 100 years away. It is because of this that we continue to celebrate our achievements, but also continue to advocate for change. This year’s theme for IWD is #PressForProgress. Along with other recent campaigns such as #TimesUP and #MeToo which brought attention to the continuing problems with parity in politics, music, film, art and fashion industries, the Press for Progress campaign continues their work to expose the ongoing unfair, ill-treatment of women. Ultimately, March 8th marks the start of a new year of advocating for women’s rights. #PressforProgress will continue throughout the year helping to shed light on the fact that women’s rights need to be addressed 365 days of the year, not just 1.
Who runs the day?
International Women’s Day does not belong to one certain organisation, country, government or NGO; it is a day for women of any age, ethnicity or community. In some countries, March 8th is a national holiday, but regardless of where the day is, it is typically filled with such events as rallies, speaker platforms and workshops. Whether it’s a rally in Trafalgar Square, a presentation by a successful author or a workshop in a community library, International Women’s Day is for everyone. March 8th is a day for sharing, educating and empowering. This day is for all female identifying people; mothers, daughters, sisters, refugees, stay at home mums, actors and news reporters. It is for all women, everywhere. International Women’s Day is a day for taking pride in how far we have come, but letting everyone know that we are far from being done. We intend to continue being vocal and to push for change. We intend on making gender inequality history.
Join us in celebrating, and show your support on March 8th!
Words by Michelle Heath