What it’s About
International Women’s Day took shape in the early 1900s, becoming an annual event in 1910 when activist Clara Zetkin proposed a specific day be celebrated each year and in every country. Driven by the launch of www.internationalwomensday.com in 2001 and the increased publicity by the sharing of stories on social media, the world now celebrates International Women’s Day every March 8th. It has become a popular event marked by governments, institutions and employers around the world, celebrating the accomplishments of women in areas that were once closed to them such as politics, business, economics and science. But how important is the day, and how does it impact the equality, safety and rights of women and girls?
How it Supports Change
International Women’s Day isn’t only about celebrating the achievements of women. It originated from the long struggle for labour and voting rights. At its heart, the day is about equality for women. Although the situation has significantly improved over recent years and there is more representation in decision-making groups and in the boardroom, there is a long way to go before women have full equality. In reality, there is a gender pay gap and women are underrepresented in leadership roles, politics and other fields. In some parts of the world, women have few rights compared to men. In addition, women experience more physical violence, sexual assault, forced marriage, honour-based violence, sex trafficking, female genital mutilation and war rape. Keeping the origins of International Women’s Day in mind helps us remember that radical change is needed.
It Highlights Important Issues
A different campaign theme is adopted by the IWD website each year, highlighting important issues and putting out a call for action. The theme for 2023 is #EmbraceEquity with the aim of getting people talking about Why equal opportunities aren’t enough. Previous campaigns have included #BreakTheBias, #ChooseToChallenge, #BeBoldforChange, #PledgeforParity, #TheGenderAgenda and others. Not only does this raise awareness of the issue but also raises funds from the many businesses that choose to get involved. Money donated is given to women’s charities.
It Puts Women Centre-Stage
Celebrating the amazing achievements of women is an important part of International Women’s Day, and so it should be. More women than ever are breaking glass ceilings and playing crucial roles in their chosen fields. But it also gives us an opportunity to reflect on women whose voices are rarely heard. There are still communities around the globe in which women are discouraged or find it impossible to have an education, a career or bodily, legal or financial autonomy. Amid the celebrating, we remember there is much work to be done, and there is a need to support all women, whoever and wherever they are.
It Raises Awareness
International Women’s Day raises awareness of inequality and the work still to be done. Whether it’s a discussion on social media, education in the classroom, or a publicity event at work – the more people that are aware of the day, the more awareness there is around the fight for equality.
Helps us Assess Our Lives
With the focus on equality, safety, achievement and potential, International Women’s Day helps women assess where they are right now and to reflect on what needs to change. Whether you’re in a relationship or a job that no longer serves you, or whether it’s time to take action in your own life, you should remember that all women are important and vital members of families, organisations and communities, and that includes you. Make March 8th a day to celebrate how far you have come, and think about where you want to go next.
From its beginnings back in the struggle for women’s suffrage to the slick social media campaigns of today, International Women’s Day is an important global celebration for the equality and emancipation of women. But behind the celebrations is a very important message, one that we should all pay attention to, whatever our gender. So, have fun, be safe, stay strong, and keep fighting.
Happy International Women’s Day to women around the world, from everyone at NCDV.
National Training Manager, NCDV