International Women’s Day is celebrated globally every year on March 8, and this year’s campaign theme is #BalanceforBetter, with focus on equality, awareness against bias, a gender-balanced world and women’s achievement.
How It All Started
The United Nation’s celebrated International Women’s Year for the first time in 1975. Later on in 1977, the United Nation’s General Assembly along with invited member states proclaimed a United Nations Day for women’s rights and international peace, to be celebrated on any day of the year by member states in accordance with their respective traditions.
But its history goes way back in the early 1900s – In 1908, the earliest account of women joining together to campaign for change resulted in a march through New York City. 15,000 women hit the streets to demand better pay, shorter hours and voting rights. The following year in 1909, the Socialist Party of America declared the first National Women’s Day on February 28, held annually until 1913.
But the idea of an International Women’s Day being celebrated on the same day was proposed and unanimously approved in 1910 in an International Conference in Copenhagen. This began to be honored gradually by different countries since. Although the growth of the movement was slow and waned in the years that followed, it was re-ignited in the early 2000s with the growing support from political and business leaders, organizations and activists especially on its 100th year mark.
IWD and Beyond
Today, with the increased awareness and shift in societal attitudes and values, we are witnessing significant support, visibility and improvement in terms of women’s rights, equality and empowerment. With the uptick in role models, influencers and leaders lending their voices to various women’s issues and causes, the struggle is ongoing but significant gains have been achieved.
Why It Matters
While #IWD2019 is celebrated worldwide on March 8th, the campaign runs beyond the single event as we show support and champion its message throughout the year. This year’s campaign #BalanceforBetter is more than a celebration, it’s a call to action to sustain and accelerate change to achieve gender balance. And while solving the problems women face in society seems like a gigantic task, and something that can only be remotely achieved by a united effort, as individuals, there are various ways that we can show support and express unity. Below are some ways we can take part in herstory:
- Run your own #BalanceforBetter campaign
- Join local/international women’s event/s
- Be educated
- Stay abreast of issues and events around you before getting involved. Act/react wisely.
- Spread awareness
- This is something you can do through your social media groups or other platforms in your sphere of influence, i.e. at work, in your community, etc.
- Share events, talks, images or pictures of IWD events happening around you. Use the official hashtag and add to the campaign.
- Lend your voice/time/skills to a worthy cause
- Speak up, volunteer or organize an event yourself.
- Support other women’s initiative i.e. business, work, organizations, etc.
- Be creative. There are many ways to make a difference.
The Time Is Now
Women are in a better situation now than ever before and there is no better time to start taking action and getting involved than now. Let’s celebrate us this March 8 and everyday afterwards.