The 8th day of March has been set aside globally as the International Women’s Day; a day to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women.
It is a day when women are recognized for their achievements without regard to divisions, whether national, ethnic, linguistic, cultural, economic or political; a day set aside to celebrate women of the past, recognize and acknowledge women of the present and prepare the ground for women in the future. Summarily, its objective is to call the world to action for accelerating gender parity.
History of the International Women’s Day
‘The Journey of a Thousand miles, starts with a step’.
The International Women’s Day has come a long way. Though now celebrated in many countries around the world, it is actually a resultant effect of the activities of labour movements of the twentieth century in North America and across Europe. Since those early years, International Women’s Day has assumed a new global dimension for women in developed and developing countries alike.
1909 The first National Woman’s Day, observed in the United States on 28 February. The Socialist Party of America designated this day in honour of the 1908 garment workers’ strike in New York, where women protested against working conditions.
1910 The Socialist International meeting in Copenhagen, established a Women’s Day, international in character, to honour the movement for women’s rights and build support for achieving universal suffrage for women. The proposal was unanimous applauded by the conference of over 100 women from 17 countries, which included the first three women elected to the Finnish Parliament.
1911 As a result of the Copenhagen initiative, International Women’s Day was marked for the first time (19 March) in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland, where more than one million women and men attended rallies. In addition to the right to vote and to hold public office, they demanded women’s rights to work, to vocational training and to end job discriminations.
1913-1914 International Women’s Day also became a mechanism for protesting World War I. As part of the peace movement, Russian women observed their first International Women’s Day on the last Sunday in February. Elsewhere in Europe, on or around 8 March of the following year, women held rallies either to protest the war or to express solidarity with other activists.
1917 Sequel to the war, women in Russia again chose to protest and strike for “Bread and Peace” on the last Sunday in February (which fell on 8 March on the Gregorian calendar). Four days later, the Czar abdicated and the provisional Government granted women the right to vote.
1975 During International Women’s Year, the United Nations began celebrating International Women’s Day on 8 March.
1995 The Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, a historic roadmap signed by 189 governments, focused on 12 critical areas of concern, and envisioned a world where each female can exercise her choices, such as participating in politics, getting an education, earning income, and living in violence and discrimination free societies.
2014 The 58th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW58) – the annual gathering of States to address critical issues related to gender equality and women’s rights — focused on “Challenges and achievements in the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals for women and girls”.
International Women’s Day 2019: Balance for Better; Think equal, build smart, innovate for change
The 2019 theme for the International Women’s Day is Balance for Better which can be achieved by the admonition to Think equal, build smart, innovate for change.
The focus this year is to build a gender balanced world. The belief is that gender balance is essential for economies and communities to thrive; that balance is not a women’s issue, it’s a business issue; that there must be balance in the boardroom, in government, in media coverage, in employment opportunities, in wealth distribution etc. This implies that the drive of the IWD must be the drive for all groups, every day, everywhere.
The proposition to think equal, build smart, innovate for change is an echo to the priority theme of the sixty-third session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW63), which envisions industry leaders, game-changing start-ups, social entrepreneurs, gender equality activists, and women innovators, examining the ways in which innovation can remove barriers and accelerate progress for gender equality, encourage investment in gender-responsive social systems, and build services and infrastructure that meet the needs of women and girls.
IWD: Gender equality and the Sustainable Development Goals
International Women’s Day is equally a thread intending to string together a lot of pieces; culminating to accelerating and achieving the 2030 Agenda. The key targets of the 2030 Agenda include:
- Ensuring that all girls and boys complete free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education leading to relevant and Goal-4 effective learning outcomes.
- Ensuring that all girls and boys have access to quality early childhood development, care and pre-primary education so that they are ready for primary education.
- Ending all forms of discrimination against all women and girls everywhere.
- Eliminating all forms of violence against all women and girls in the public and private spheres, including trafficking and sexual and other types of exploitation.
- Eliminating all harmful practices, such as child, early and forced marriage and female genital mutilation.
The United Nations have had Gender Equality as one of their values. This is evidenced by their promotion of the participation of women as equal partners with men in achieving sustainable development, peace, security, and full respect for human rights through their technical agencies. The UN are opinionated that women empowerment should serve as a central feature of the UN’s efforts to address social, economic and political challenges across the globe.
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