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International Womens Day - How Did It Begin, and Where Are We Now With The Fight For Women's Rights?

by Claire Crosby
March 8th marks Women's International Day.

International Women's Day also known as IWD, happens every year on March 8th and is a way to celebrate the achievements of women, whilst also equally focusing on discrimination, gender pay gap, sexism and much more.

Starting over 100 years ago, the day is still very prominent all over the world and continues to grow each and every year. With the rise of social media usage, body positivity talks and campaigns, the 'MeToo' movement and the sheer fact that women are beginning to use their voices, much louder than ever before, we have seen a rise in the popularity of the day.

The first National Woman’s Day, was held in New York City on February 28, 1909. With people coming out in their thousands in the hopes to unify both the suffragist and socialist causes. The writer Charlotte Perkins addressed the crowds and said “It is true that a woman’s duty is centred in her home and motherhood, but home should mean the whole country, and not be confined to three or four rooms or a city or a state.”

In Europe, the concept of a "woman's day" became quite popular. The inaugural International Woman's Day was observed on March 19, bringing in nearly 1 million people to demonstrations around the world. Most attempts at social reform came to a standstill when World War I broke out in 1914, but women continued to march on International Woman's Day.

International Women's Day is now celebrated in over 100 countries and marked as a national holiday in 25.

Sadly, although women have been fighting for equality for over 100 years, we still do not hold the presence or have the acceptance that we deserve.

There are still prominent issues with gender inequality, equal pay, sexism, violence against women and girls and much more. Therefore on IWD, women, across the globe continue to come together to remind the world of these continuing inequalities and injustices – whilst also celebrating the achievements of women who have overcome these barriers.

Where are we now?

It has become very highlighted that we are still not where we need to be as women. With rape and murders, that of which has recently been highlighted in the killings of Sarah Everard and Sabina Nessa. In 2021 Research from the Femicide Census - an organisation which collects information on men's violence against women - calculates that across the UK, 1,425 women were killed by men in the 10 years to 2018. That is about one killing every three days.

Even over 50 years since the Pay Gap came into existence, but there is still a huge difference in male and female salaries - with a 10% gap between men's and women's average hourly rate and a 30% gap when women's part-time hourly rate is compared with men's full-time hourly rate.

This Years Theme

This years theme centres around breaking the bias and can be found under the hashtag #BreakTheBias. The messaging is to promote a world free from bias, alongside discrimination, and other issues faced by women.

IWD 2022 campaign theme #BreakTheBias

Imagine a gender equal world.

A world free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination.

A world that is diverse, equitable, and inclusive.

A world where difference is valued and celebrated.

Together we can forge women's equality.

Collectively we can all #BreakTheBias.

Ways to get involved?

The IWD team are prompting people to get involved by taking a picture of the Break The Bias pose as seen in the video above and sharing this on social media using the hashtag #BreakTheBias - in doing so, they hope to reach millions across the globe and help to continue to push the agenda for change.

IWD will be looking through the hashtag and selecting indivudks/groups to feature on their social media and website.


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