International Women’s Day ‒ or IWD – takes place annually on March 8th. In 2023, it will be on Wednesday, March 8th.
IWD has been celebrating the successes and challenging the injustices of women around the world for decades.
While these injustices demand so much more time than just one day, International Women’s Day is still an effective amplifier of the voices of women, and a powerful step in the right direction.
But do you know the history of International Women’s Day? Or when it’s held each year? What about how to celebrate International Women’s Day?
Join us as we find out all there is to know about International Women’s Day.
What is International Women’s Day?
International Women’s Day (IWD) is a day of celebration, action, and awareness for women and the challenges or injustices we face every day.
It’s a day to acknowledge achievements, tackle prejudice, and proudly look back at how far we’ve come.
International Women’s Day is just that ‒ international ‒ so it’s celebrated globally on the same day, bringing together women from every corner of life.
What is the purpose of International Women’s Day?
The purpose of International Women’s Day is to shine a light on the issues and inequalities affecting women across the world, celebrate the achievements of women, and open discussions about how we can bring about positive change with equity and equality.
It’s all about uniting together to be the difference.
International Women’s Day is not about putting men down.
You don’t have to put anyone else down to raise yourself up.
International Women’s Day is about gender equality ‒ that’s equality for men, women, non-binary people, and everyone in-between.
In fact, some people prefer to call IWD ‘Civil Awareness Day, ‘Anti-Discrimination Day’, or ‘Anti-Sexism Day’, to open it up beyond people who use the term ‘women’ to identify themselves.
And that’s fine, too.
Why is International Women’s Day important?
International Women’s Day isn’t about individual women’s challenges and achievements.
We think Audre Lorde put it best: “I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own”.
Women (and girls) around the world have their equality challenged by societal norms, unjust laws, and missing human rights.
So why do we need International Women’s Day?
Well, we’ll tell you (and yes, you’d better believe we have the receipts):
- Just over 10% of all Fortune 500 companies have women as CEOs. But we’re making progress, since in 2021, it was just 8.1%, and in 2020, it was 7%.
- Women’s health problems are dismissed by doctors or they are subjected to longer wait times than men. And it’s even worse for women of color.
- Many women’s contributions to tech innovations go unrecognized ‒ some are simply written out of history.
- Female genital mutilation (FGM) is still practiced in some places in the world, despite it having no health benefits and causing health and sexual problems later in life.
- While women may earn 79% of Bachelor’s degrees in Psychology in the US, they’re left off of most lists of noted people in the industry. And it’s not just in psychology.
- The gender pay gap is real ‒ women earn an average of 32% less than men for the same work. And that’s an average. In some countries, it can get up to 60% less. Seriously.
- Around the world, just 26 women are serving as world leaders.
- 91 million women of reproductive age around the world are not allowed to have an abortion to save their life.
- 1 in 3 women globally have experienced some form of sexual assault.
- 45% of Gen Z and Millennial women have experienced online abuse.
- While women make up between 66-71% of leadership roles in higher education concerning academic, fiscal, and student affairs, they only make up 19-29% of leadership roles in facilities, IT, and athletics.
- The traditional car seat belt was designed for the male body, meaning that those with typically feminine bodies are 73% more likely to have severe injuries in front-on car crashes.
- At the current rate of progress, it’ll take about 132 years to close the global Gender Pay Gap.
- Just 10 countries in the world offer fully equal rights for women in the workplace as of 2021 ‒ and no, the US and the UK didn’t make the cut.
Why do we celebrate women’s Day on March 8?
Why March 8th?
Well, back in the 1900s, the first International Women’s Day was actually celebrated on February 23rd, but it was changed a few years later to March 8th to fit in with the Russian Gregorian calendar at the time.
When did International Women’s Day begin?
International Women’s Day has been held since February 1908, in New York City, when early suffragettes marched for better pay, shorter working hours, and the right to vote.
In 1911, International Women’s Day became truly international, celebrated in Germany, Denmark, Switzerland, and Austria, as well as the US.
From 1913, the date of IWD was changed to March 8th, and has been held every year since.
From 1975, the United Nations helped International Women’s Day spread even further around the world to make it the momentous event it is today.
How to celebrate International Women’s Day
Now you know a little more about IWD and why we need it, how can you celebrate it yourself?
Here are a few things you can do for a happy Women’s Day 2023:
- Dress in purple, green, and white ‒ the colors of International Women’s Day. According to the official IWD website, “Purple signifies justice and dignity. Green symbolizes hope. White represents purity, albeit a controversial concept.”.
- Go to a local Women’s Day 2023 march in your area. No march near you? Make it happen yourself.
- Get together with friends and family to discuss women’s rights, equality, or even books and movies about gender equality and equity.
- Share your story about gender inequality, your achievements, women who inspire you, or what you’re doing to help eradicate gender inequality on social media.
- Fundraise or donate to a female-focused charity.
- Support female-owned brands. If you can’t buy from them, show your support online.
- Send compliments or kind words to your female friends and family.
- Have a feminist movie night. Our suggestions: Little Women, Promising Young Woman, On the Basis of Sex, Legally Blonde (1 and 2!), Brave, The Color Purple, and Captain Marvel.
- Read a feminist book, like How to Be a Woman, White Fragility, Feminists Don’t Wear Pink (and other lies), Everyday Sexism, More Than Enough, or anything by Maya Angelou.
- Arrange an early walk-out at work ‒ speak to your management before you do this!
- Curate and listen to an all-female Spotify playlist.
- Dress as your favorite female icon.
- Post your favorite International Women’s Day quote on social media.
- Research lesser-known female icons and share their stories.
- Follow intersectional women on social media. If you’re struggling for ideas, we’ve got some great choices of inspiring black women and LGBTQIA+ couples to follow.
- Organize a DEI Committee in your workplace (DEI stands for diversity, equity, and inclusion). If you’re not sure where to start, check out this handy guide.
- Take a photo of you hugging yourself ‒ #EmbraceEquity.
- Educate yourself on the difference between Equality and Equity ‒ don’t worry, we’ve got some handy tips below.
But don’t feel as though you have to wait for IWD to do any of these suggestions ‒ the fight for women’s rights around the world is needed throughout the year!
Another important thing you can do is to involve people who don’t identify as women in whatever you do for International Women’s Day.
After all, we’re all in this together.
What is the colour for Women’s Day?
Usually, purple is the main color for International Women’s Day, paired with green and white ‒ representing justice, hope, and purity.
So if you’re not sure what to wear to show your support, go for purple!
What is the theme for International Women’s Day 2023?
The theme of IWD 2023 will be #EmbraceEquity.
Equity isn’t just a nice-to-have, it’s a must-have if we want true equality.
The reality is, we don’t all start from the same place.
As a society, we need to make adjustments that address imbalances to encourage fair and equitable experiences.
Equity and equality are not the same.
Now is our opportunity to clear that up.
- Equality is when an individual or group of people is given the same resources or opportunities.
- Equity recognises that each person has different circumstances and allocates the necessary resources and opportunities needed to reach an equal outcome.
Equal opportunities are no longer enough.
Equality is the goal, and equity is how we’ll get there.
And this isn’t limited to women solely fighting the good fight.
Allies are incredibly important for the social, economic, cultural, and political advancement of women.