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International Women’s Day

Over the course of history, the struggle for gender equality has been a resilient thread woven through the fabric of societal evolution. While progress has been made in the last century, there’s still a long way to go. International Women's Day was founded to help celebrate all of the achievements of women and raise awareness about the present issues of inequality. It’s meant to serve as a testament to the ongoing pursuit of recognition, justice, and empowerment for women worldwide. To help you better celebrate this important holiday, we’ll cover everything you need to know about Women’s Day.

What is International Women’s Day?

International Women's Day (IWD) is a global day dedicated to celebrating women's achievements and contributions throughout history while recognizing the ongoing struggles they face. It’s an occasion to raise awareness about gender inequality, advocate for women's rights, and promote women's empowerment in all aspects of life. Each year, different themes are announced to help individuals better understand specific issues that women face.

When is International Women’s Day?

International Women’s Day is held every year on March 8th. It’s celebrated in unison on this day by people worldwide. Some nations have even declared March as Women’s History Month to help further celebrate women’s achievements throughout the years.

The Colors of International Women’s Day

The official colors of International Women’s Day are purple, green, and white. These colors all carry a meaning and are an important way to show your support for IWD. Purple is meant to represent justice and dignity, green is used to symbolize hope, and white is used to represent purity, which some people find a bit controversial.

The History of International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day has been occurring for over a century. Here are some of the most notable dates in its history:

  • 1908: 15,000 women marched through New York City demanding shorter working hours, better pay, and the right to vote. This event is considered one of the most notable precursors to International Women's Day.
  • 1910: An International Conference of Working Women is held in Copenhagen. Clara Zetkin, a German socialist, proposed the idea of an International Women's Day to advocate for women's rights globally.
  • 1911: International Women's Day is celebrated on March 19th for the first time in Austria, Denmark, Germany, and Switzerland. More than a million men and women attended rallies campaigning for women's rights to work, vote, be trained, and end discrimination.
  • 1913-1914: International Women's Day is moved to March 8th and has been celebrated on this day ever since.
  • 1917: Women in Russia organized a strike for "Bread and Peace" in response to the death of over 2 million Russian soldiers in World War I. This strike marked the beginning of the Russian Revolution.
  • 1975: The United Nations officially recognizes International Women's Day.
  • 2001: The "internationalwomensday.com" platform was launched to help promote participation and access to information.
  • 2007: The theme for International Women's Day shifts to an annual theme. The first theme was "Ending Impunity for Violence against Women and Girls."
  • 2010: The United States designates March as "Women's History Month."
  • 2011: The 100th anniversary of International Women's Day is marked globally, with events and celebrations highlighting progress and ongoing challenges in the fight for gender equality.
  • 2020-2021: International Women's Day events occur virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which emphasized the importance of gender equality in a global health crisis.
  • 2023: International Women's Day continues to be celebrated worldwide, with ongoing efforts to address gender inequality and promote women's rights.

The Importance of International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day is essential in working towards gender equality. Unfortunately, according to the World Economic Forum, none of us will see gender equality during our lifetime, and it is unlikely our children will, either. They estimate that it will take well over a century to occur. While this can be a little discouraging, IWD helps keep the issues at the forefront of everyone's mind so we can continue to fight for what’s right.

How is International Women’s Day Celebrated Around the World?

While the basic motivations remain the same, International Women’s Day is celebrated uniquely in countries worldwide. Some examples of different ways to observe this holiday include:

  • Spain — Spaniards often participate in strikes and marches to bring awareness to issues.
  • Italy — Italians have a beautiful tradition of giving the women in their lives a bunch of small yellow flowers called mimosas, which have become the symbol of IWD in Italy.
  • United States — Rallies and conferences are held to help spark conversations about inequality.
  • China — In China, employers are encouraged to give their female staff a half-day at work, and many men purchase gifts for the women they know.
  • Russia — Russians also celebrate through gift-giving, which seems to have changed the original meaning for many.
  • Romania — Romanians celebrate IWD in a similar way to Mother’s Day.
  • Australia — Many marches occur throughout the day, in addition to panels, public speaking events, and events.
  • United Kingdom — People in the UK also honor IWD through activists, speakers, and even some performers. It’s often held over three days, primarily in London.
  • India — There are several events and workshops for individuals to attend that focus on things like women’s health, gender-based violence, and more.

How to Support International Women’s Day

Anyone, anywhere, can support International Women’s Day by speaking up, taking action, and educating themselves. For a few ideas, consider the following things you can do:

  • Educate Yourself — Learn about the history of women's rights movements, key figures, and ongoing issues related to gender equality. Understanding the challenges women face globally is the first step in becoming an advocate for change.
  • Participate in Events — Attend or organize events in your community or workplace that celebrate International Women's Day. This could include discussions, workshops, art exhibits, or any activity that helps raise awareness about gender equality.
  • Promote Gender Equality in the Workplace — Advocate for fair and equal treatment of women in your workplace.
  • Support Women-Owned Businesses — Choose to support businesses owned or led by women.
  • Use Social Media for Advocacy — Share information, articles, and resources related to International Women's Day across your social media platforms.
  • Donate to Women's Organizations — Contribute to organizations that work towards improving the lives of women and advancing women's rights. This can include NGOs, shelters for survivors of domestic violence, or organizations focused on education and healthcare for women.
  • Encourage Mentorship and Support — Advocate for mentorship programs that connect women with mentors in their fields.
  • Speak Up Against Gender Bias — Challenge and speak out against sexist language, stereotypes, and discriminatory practices.
  • Volunteer — Offer your time and skills to organizations that support women's causes.
  • Reflect and Take Action Year-Round — While International Women's Day is a focal point, commit to supporting women's rights throughout the year. Make gender equality a daily commitment to truly support all of the women in your life.

Remember that support for women's rights can take various forms, and every effort, no matter how small, can help make a difference. Every country celebrates International Women’s Day differently, and seeing these cultural differences can bring new ideas to mind. Tandem is proud to support International Women’s Day and other inclusive holidays like International Mother Language Day to encourage equality around the world for everyone, regardless of gender, race, or cultural background. To learn more about Tandem and join our community of like-minded language learners, download the app today.

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