Social Observers


1. What is International Women’s Day? 

International Women’s Day (IWD) is a worldwide event  held on March 8 to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women and to call for gender equality. According to the UN, “It is an occasion for reflecting on past struggles and accomplishments while also, looking ahead to the untapped potential and opportunities that await future generations of women.”

The day is marked around the world with arts performances, talks, rallies, networking events, conferences and marches.

2. How did International Women’s Day start?

It is difficult to say exactly when IWD began. Its origins can be traced to the celebration of “National Women’s Day” in 1909 in New York to commemorate a strike of the International Ladies’ Garment Worker’s Union when 15,000 women marched through the city to demand vote rights, better pay and shorter working hours.

In 1910, a women named Clara Zetkin-leader of the “women’s office” for the Social Democratic Party in Germany, initiated the idea of an International Women’s Day. She proposed that every country should celebrate women on one day every year to push for their demands.

International Women’s Day was officially recognised by the United Nations in 1975.

3. Why should we continue to celebrate IWD?

Although International Women’s Day is about celebrating women, it is also about acknowledging that no country in the world has achieved gender equality.  Statistics demonstrate that globally, women’s education, health and violence towards women is worse off than of men. Women continue to experience violation of their rights, discrimination and lack of representation in positions of power.

According to a 2017 report by the World Economic Forum, it could still take another 100 years before the global equality gap between men and women disappears completely.

On IWD, women around the world unite to encourage the world to recognise these inequalities- while also acknowledging the achievements of women who have overcome these barriers.

4. What is the theme for IWD this year?

This year’s theme for IWD is #PressforProgress which highlights the growing global movement for advocacy, activism and support surrounding gender parity and sexism. There is also an emphasis on gender inclusivity and new gender parity initiatives.

Having been inspired by the #MeToo and #TimesUp movement, the theme aims to encourage people to continue the fight for equality.

“Now, more than ever, there’s a strong call-to-action to press forward and progress gender parity. A strong call to #PressforProgress. A strong call to motivate and unite friends, colleagues and whole communities to think, act and be gender inclusive,” the IWD website encourages..

“So together, let’s all be tenacious in accelerating gender parity. Collectively, let’s all Press for Progress.”

5. How can I get involved?

There are many activities which you can get involved in on IWD- from festivals to exhibitions and panel discussions—held across Australia and the globe.

Visit the International Women’s Day event page  to see the full list of activities near you.

Let’s all collaborate to accelerate gender parity, so our collective action powers equality worldwide. There is much work to be done in Australia. There is much work to be done everywhere. The time is now.

How will you press for progress?

Let us know in the comments below what you’re planning to do to celebrate International Women’s Day this year.

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