This Sunday, March 8th, the world will be celebrating the 104th International Women’s Day (IWD). The following week is intended to give the world an opportunity to review what progress has been made over the last 12 months towards further gender equality. This day (and all week) also allows the world to honour the contributions that have been made (and continue to be made!) by women not just in our own countries, but globally as well.
International Women’s Day Beginnings
International Women’s Day emerged at the turn of the twentieth century, originating out of the activities of labour movements in North America and across Europe. The first IWD was observed on March 19, 1911 in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland.
It was Susan B. Anthony (1820 – 1906), an American social reformer and feminist, who said “It would be ridiculous to talk of male and female atmospheres, male and female springs or rains, male and female sunshine…. how much more ridiculous is it in relation to mind, to soul, to thought, where there is as undeniably no such thing as sex, to talk of male and female education and of male and female schools.”
In 1975 the United Nations’ recognized the importance of the women’s movement and made it official in 1977 by selecting March 8 as chosen day. Throughout the UN system IWD is also known as the United Nations Day for Women’s Rights and International Peace.
This year’s message from the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon.
International Women’s Day Themes & Events
The UN theme for International Women’s Day 2015 is “Empowering Women, Empowering Humanity: Picture it!”. This year will honor the 20th anniversary of the signing of The Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, a historic roadmap by 189 governments.
Individual countries and / or groups are invited to select their own theme that may be more specific to their local context and relevant to their particular issues. The overall goal is to envision a world where each woman and girl can exercise her choices, such as participating in politics, getting an education, having an income, and living in societies free from violence and discrimination.
Canada’s theme for 2015 is “Strong Women. Strong World. Improving Economic Opportunities for All.” This theme highlights the importance of ensuring that every woman has the opportunity to help create prosperity, whether as an employee, a professional, a business leader or an entrepreneur.
The city of Toronto will be holding an International Women’s Day Summit. That theme will be “Mental Health is an Inside Job!” The message they want to project is to begin a discussion about the aftermath of Violence Against Women – and now is the time to talk about the healing process.
There will be 119 individual events held across Canada to mark the importance of IWD. A few examples are listed here.
According to CNN there are 100 International Women’s Day events you’d be crazy to miss.
Symbols of International Women’s Day
The IWD logo is purple and white to symbolize justice and dignity – two values strongly associated with women’s equality. IWA also features Venus – a female symbol and features various female faces that cover a broad spectrum of backgrounds, ages, and nations. One can expect to see purple ribbons pinned on people of all cultures, religions and locations in celebration of women’s achievements and to remind us of what has yet to be accomplished.
There are 100 very good reasons why it is necessary to have International Women’s Day in 2015!
Commemorating International Women’s Day on Twitter
Gender equality is more than a goal in itself. It is a precondition for meeting the challenge of reducing poverty, promoting sustainable development and building good governance.
~ Kofi Annan, seventh Secretary-General of the United Nations