International Women's Days

International Women's Day: How to Get Involved

International Women's Day, celebrated annually on March 8th, is a worldwide celebration of the incredible accomplishments of women in diverse areas, such as social, economic, cultural, and political spheres. 

This significant day creates an essential platform for fostering understanding and bolstering gender equality and women's empowerment across the globe. With its roots tracing back to the early 1900s, International Women's Day has transformed into a compelling movement, uniting women and their allies to pursue a more equitable society.

The primary goal of this day is not only to spread awareness about the ongoing challenges in achieving gender parity but also to inspire joint efforts toward realizing equal opportunities for all, irrespective of gender. 

By showcasing the achievements of women from all walks of life, the celebration instills a sense of pride and motivation in future generations, empowering them to break down barriers and challenge societal norms. Learn more about this observance as you read on. 

Featured in: March - Awareness Months, Days & Observances

International Women’s Day History and Background

Women's rights march
Photo by Giacomo Ferroni on Unsplash

The first National Woman’s Day originated in the early 20th century, with the inaugural celebration on February 28, 1909, in the United States. It later became known as International Women’s Day in 1911. 

Sparked by the Socialist Party of America, the event aimed to address urgent women's labor rights concerns, such as grueling working conditions and unfair wages. 

Clara Zetkin, a German activist and advocate for women's rights, proposed the annual observance of IWD at the Second International Conference of Working Women in Copenhagen in 1910. Since its official inception on March 8, 1911, the day has become a worldwide platform for promoting gender equality and commemorating women's social, economic, cultural, and political accomplishments.

Notable contributions

Since the first International Women’s Day, the event has contributed to several groundbreaking milestones in women's rights, one such moment happened on March 8, 1917, when Russian women staged a strike for "bread and peace," ultimately catalyzing the Russian Revolution and resulting in women's suffrage. 

The United Nations (UN) has been instrumental in championing IWD, which gained momentum in 1975 when it was named International Women's Year. By 1977, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution establishing a United Nations Day for Women's Rights and International Peace. Furthermore, it encouraged member states to observe the day harmoniously with their historical and national customs.

Key advocates

IWD's expansion and recognition can be partly credited to influential individuals, such as Clara Zetkin, Alexandra Kollontai (a Russian revolutionary and diplomat), and Louise Zeitz (an Austrian feminist and politician). Their tireless efforts have inspired countless breakthroughs, including increased political representation for women, enhanced labor laws, and the implementation of gender equality policies in various nations.

Today, IWD continues to energize global action and advocacy, propelling us closer to a more equitable world with each passing year.

The Challenges IWD Seeks to Address

Young women protesting
Photo by Ehimetalor Akhere Unuabona on Unsplash

At the heart of this cause lies the mission to empower women, dismantle barriers stifling their potential, promote gender equality, and pave the way for equal opportunities for all. 

From wage gaps and limited access to education to gender-based violence and underrepresentation in leadership positions, these multifaceted challenges not only hold women back but also hamper the collective progress of societies2.

The gender pay gap is a stark reminder of the persistent inequalities women face globally. According to the World Economic Forum, women earn a mere 77 cents for every dollar men pocket. This gender pay disparity created a substantial wage gap3, undermining women's financial independence.

Education, too, often remains a luxury for girls and women primarily due to deeply ingrained cultural norms and discrimination. With an astonishing 132 million girls missing school, their future prospects are dramatically curtailed, perpetuating the poverty cycle. 

Similarly, the need for more female representation in leadership across political, economic, and STEM domains is equally concerning. With women constituting a mere 22.9% of national parliamentarians in 2021, the urgent need for diverse voices in leadership positions could not be clearer. 

5 Important Facts About Gender Equality

  • The ongoing struggle for gender equality reveals a sobering reality: despite progress, inequality remains widespread across the globe. On average, women earn a mere 77% of what their male counterparts do, occupying just 25% of parliamentary seats1.
  • Poverty, unfortunately, has a disproportionate impact on women. They make up 60% of the world's poorest individuals. A combination of factors exacerbates this economic vulnerability, including restricted access to education, persisting wage gaps, and ingrained societal norms.
  • A staggering 132 million girls worldwide remain out of school. While two two-thirds of the global illiterate population are women.
  • A devastating 35% of women experience physical or sexual violence. Tackling this epidemic calls for a comprehensive approach encompassing effective policies, robust legal frameworks, and critical shifts in societal attitudes to safeguard women's rights and well-being.
  • To achieve gender equality, increasing women's presence in leadership is essential. However, women comprise a mere 22.8% of national parliamentarians and a paltry 7.4% of Fortune 500 CEOs. 

Read more: Equality and diversity facts.

Efforts and Initiatives

Many efforts and initiatives led by international organizations, governments, nonprofits, and local communities focus on tackling gender equality and women's empowerment. Many of these efforts challenge historical and national traditions that hold women back. 

Take, for instance, the "Generation Equality" campaign by UN Women. This powerful movement has a clear goal: to hasten the pace of gender equality actions across the globe. Teaming up with governments, civil society, and the private sector, the campaign urges everyone to take bold steps toward forging a more inclusive and equal world for all.

Another initiative that has left an indelible mark is CARE International's annual "Walk In Her Shoes" event. Timed perfectly to coincide with International Women's Day, this global event aims to raise funds and awareness for impoverished women and girls. Participants walk in solidarity, embodying the struggles faced by these women and girls. 

Local, community-led programs have also been instrumental in pushing for gender equality. A prime example is Girl Rising's global campaign, which cleverly employs storytelling and media to advocate for girls' education and empowerment. By igniting community-driven change, they're leaving a lasting impact.

How to Get Involved and Support International Women’s Day

Get involved in International Women's Day
Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

Diving into International Women's Day is as simple as joining online conversations and sharing content on social media. When you use the official hashtag #IWD2022, you raise awareness and connect with others who care deeply about women's rights and gender equality.

In today’s digital age, sharing articles and eye-catching infographics is easy. Check out our equality and diversity quotes for some inspiration and graphics you can share. Meanwhile,  personal stories can inspire, inform, and create a ripple effect of awareness and action.

But don't stop there! Education empowers people, so why not host or attend events like film screenings, book clubs, or panel discussions to proactively amplify the messages associated with International Women’s Day celebrations? 

Doing so will give you insights into women's global and local challenges. To make a tangible impact in your community, consider volunteering at organizations centered around women's rights. Many such opportunities exist at places such as local women's shelters and crisis centers. 

Lastly, let's talk about supporting the cause through fundraisers and your daily actions. Organize or join fundraising events for organizations that champion women's rights or seek to advance gender equality. Boost women-owned businesses and advocate for gender-sensitive policies in your workplace. 

Conclusion

International Women's Day is undeniably essential, highlighting women's ongoing challenges while emphasizing the urgent need for gender equality. This day not only celebrates the remarkable achievements of women across various fields but also unites us in a shared commitment to creating a more equitable and inclusive society.

In recognizing the significance of International Women's Day, let's draw inspiration from the countless trailblazers who have come before us. As we celebrate this particular day, let's remember to listen, learn, and use our collective strengths to uplift the voices of women around the world.

International Women's Day FAQs

1. What is International Women's Day?

International Women's Day is a global event celebrated annually on March 8th to recognize and celebrate women's social, economic, cultural, and political achievements.

2. Why is International Women's Day important?

International Women's Day is important because it raises awareness about gender inequality and highlights the need to accelerate women's empowerment and gender parity.

4. How can I get involved in International Women's Day?

You can get involved in International Women's Day by attending or organizing events, supporting women-owned businesses, donating to women-focused charities, and sharing information and resources on social media.

5. What are some of the challenges faced by women globally?

Women face a range of challenges globally, including gender-based violence, discrimination, unequal pay, limited access to education and healthcare, and under-representation in political and economic decision-making.

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1

Krook, M. L., & O'Brien, D. Z. (2012). All the President's Men? The Appointment of Female Cabinet Ministers Worldwide. Journal of Politics, 74(3), 840-855.

2

Kabeer, N., & Natali, L. (2013). Gender equality and economic growth: Is there a win-win? IDS Working Papers, 2013(417), 1-58.

3

Goldin, C. (2014). A grand gender convergence: Its last chapter. American Economic Review, 104(4), 1091-1119.

Photo by Pascal Bernardon on Unsplash
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