Celebrating International Women's Day
March 8th marks the annual International Women’s Day (IWD), where the world comes together to recognise, applaud and celebrate women and their astonishing achievements that have shaped the world we live in today. With the goal of increasing visibility whilst calling out inequality, IWD gives us the opportunity to reflect on the progress women have made and advocate for necessary change within gender parity. It also allows us to admire the women who strive for change within their own countries and communities.
The 1900s was a period of rapid industrialisation, population growth, and the development of ‘radical’ beliefs. Women began to vocalise the inherent gender disparities within various scenarios in the world. They became active in campaigning for the development of their rights and stronger representation in the workplace. The first National Women’s Day was celebrated in the United States on February 28th, 1909. Then in 1910, a key female figure named Clara Zetkin (Leader of the Women's Office for the German Social Democratic Party) proposed the idea of a global day to celebrate women and press for their demands during the International Conference of Working Women in Copenhagen. In 1975, the United Nations officially declared March 8th as International Women's Day. IWD remains the outcome of Zetkin’s, and many other women who have endured hardship, awe-inspiring endeavour.
Between last year’s IWD and today, the world has seen a plethora of change. We have all experienced a crisis like never before. To truly achieve equality, the breakdown of deeply ingrained mindsets along with historic, cultural, and socio-economic barriers is necessary. Women still get paid less than their male counterparts, have experienced an increased poverty rate during Covid-19, and suffer daily physical and mental challenges. However, today is not only a day to ponder the gaps in our progress, but to praise the hard work and relentless passion driving women around the world to venture for change. Despite the hampering conditions of the past year, women globally have persevered with their fight for equality and reform. Women around the world did not cease their journey towards equality, all the while enabling our world to run smoothly and playing essential roles in their jobs, their households, their communities and much more.
The IWD theme of 2021 is #ChooseToChallenge. This year, IWD encourages individuals around the world to support and show solidarity towards all the amazing women in their lives. It also encourages people to challenge the evident gender biases ever-present in our modern world. We must also bring light to the hard-working women who have played essential roles during the on-going pandemic. Let’s thank the female frontline workers who have sacrificed their lives to help us combat the health crisis we face. Let’s thank the women in Myanmar fighting for Democracy on the streets of their country. Let’s thank global female leaders for effectively handling the major challenges faced in the past year. Let’s thank Scotland for free and universal access to menstrual products. Let’s thank the female youth activists protesting for social and cultural change. Let’s thank our mothers, sisters, daughters and friends for all that they do for us… and to all my fellow females (cis, trans, non-binary) and allies, let’s thank ourselves for the role we play in our homes, in our schools, in our workplaces - because the world would not be what it is now without our achievements, talents and extraordinary capabilities.
What can you do for IWD?
Take small actions, because no active attempt to achieve a wider goal is ever futile - https://www.unwomen.org/en/news/stories/2020/2/compilation-small-actions-big-impact-for-generation-equality