International Women's Day (March 8th) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity.
"The story of women's struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organization but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights," says world-renowned feminist, journalist and social and political activist Gloria Steinem.
Thus International Women's Day is all about unity, celebration, reflection, advocacy and action - whatever that looks like globally at a local level. But one thing is for sure, International Women's Day has been occurring for well over a century - and continues to grow from strength to strength.
5 things you need to know about International Women’s Day
When did it start?
Originally called International Working Women’s Day, it was first celebrated on February 28, 1909, in New York in remembrance of a 1908 strike of the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union when 15,000 workers, including many immigrants, marched through the city's lower east side to demand social and political rights. It was later changed to International Women’s Day. The first Modern IWD was held on 8 March, 1914, five years after its inception.
The day was chosen because it was on a Sunday and most women would be off work and could participate in the marches and events. The day has then been celebrated ever since.
Is there a theme for this year’s IWD.
Yes, the organizers have agreed for the theme to be Be Bold For Change. This will focus on different areas which are:
Challenge bias and inequality in work places
Campaign against violence towards women
Forge women’s advancement
Celebrate women’s achievements
Champion women’s education
We do we celebrate it?
According to the UN, it is “a day when women are recognized for their achievements without regard to divisions, whether national, ethnic, linguistic, cultural, economic or political. It is an occasion for looking back on past struggles and accomplishments, and more importantly, for looking ahead to the untapped potential and opportunities that await future generations of women.”
The significance of the color purple for IWD
The official logo of International Women’s Day is the symbol of Venus. The symbol is decorated in the color purple along with pictures of different women in the background from various walks of life. The color purple was chosen, because it symbolizes dignity and justice, which are the two important goals which IWD aims to achieve for all women in all parts of the world.
How is IWD celebrated around the World?
Different countries celebrate the day differently. Countries like Afghanistan, Cambodia, Mongolia, Vietnam and Zambia have the day as a public holiday. In China, Madagascar and Nepal, the day is a public holiday for Women only. In most countries including Kenya, the day is celebrate like Mother’s day where people gift the women in the lives.