FOR more than 100 years, International Women’s Day (IWD) has celebrated women’s achievements, from political to social, while calling for gender equality and making a positive difference for females.
And this year’s theme #BalanceForBetter, is again a nod to the global push for professional and social equality.
Described as a ‘business issue’, the aim of the slogan is to encourage gender balance in boardrooms, in the media and in wealth as a way for economies to thrive.
First observed in 1911, IWD is now recognised each year on March 8, and is not specific to one group, but brings together women’s organisations, governments, corporations and charities.
IWD is marked around the world with conferences, networking events, rallies, talks and arts performances.
Gloria Steinem, world-renowned feminist, journalist and activist once said: “The story of women’s struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organisation but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights.”
The global IWD celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women, while calling for an acceleration of gender parity.
It has been observed since the early 1900s – a time of great expansion and turbulence in the industrialised world that saw booming population growth and the rise of radical ideologies.
In 1908, 15,000 women marched through New York City, demanding voting rights, better pay and shorter working hours.
A year later, the first National Women’s Day was observed in the USA on February 28, in accordance with a declaration by the Socialist Party of America.
In 1910, a woman named Clara Zetkin – leader of the Women’s Office for the Social Democratic Party in Germany – tabled the idea of an International Women’s Day at an International Conference of Working Women in Copenhagen.
She proposed that every year in every country there should be a celebration on the same day – a Women’s Day – to press for their demands.
The conference of over 100 women from 17 countries, representing unions, socialist parties and working women’s clubs greeted the suggestion with unanimous approval and International Women’s Day was born.
It was celebrated for the first timein 1911 in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland on March 19.
In 1913, it was decided to transfer IWD to March 8, and it has been celebrated on that day ever since.
IWD was only recognised by the United Nations in 1975, but ever since it has created a theme each year for the celebration.
In 2011, former US President Barack Obama declared March to be ‘Women’s History Month’.
IWD is still marked today because the original objective, to achieve full gender equality for women around the world, has still not been achieved.
Figures show that globally, women’s education, health and violence towards women is still worse than that of men.
And 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 entirely.
As such, on International Women’s Day, women across the world come unite to push the cause.
For more information on how to get involved visit: www.internationalwomensday.com
*COSTA Women is staging an exciting and inspirational conference, sponsored by Euro Weekly News Media Group, to mark International Women’s Day on March 8.
Watch this space for more information, interviews and articles about the event and those involved.