International Women’s Day: Acknowledging The Challenges

Equality

It is March and we all know what happens in March! International Women’s Day, Women’s March, Women’s History Month, and so on. While we should be celebrating and supporting women in our lives and all around the world every single day, in March, we want to go that extra mile. Show our support with actions, with words, show our appreciation, and get together on International Women’s Day to raise awareness. Which is the purpose of International Women’s day, getting together and show appreciation to those that fought so hard and encourage more people to join and together create a better place for women and all. So today, let us learn about International Women’s Day and how you can be part of it this year.

International Women’s Day – March 8

First of all, if you didn’t know already International Women’s Day is on March 8th of every year. Across the globe, countries have recognized March 8th as International Women’s Day. In addition, March is also considered Women’s History Month, where people celebrate and appreciate what women have done for us.

On International Women’s Day, people gather together to celebrate women, show support, show appreciation and get together to figure what we can do to make the world a better place. Oftentimes, leaders gather together to discuss how to eliminate gender inequality and other important issues that affect women’s everyday lives. The goal of International Women’s Day is to raise awareness and “a time to reflect on progress made, to call for change and to celebrate acts of courage and determination by ordinary women, who have played an extraordinary role in the history of their countries and communities.”

International Women’s Day’s History

Women's Rights plague in black and white
To understand International Women’s Day, it is important to understand the history of it. While the United Nations did establish International Women’s Day as an observance day until 1975, International Women’s Day was already a thing decades before. Women have been fighting for their rights and their equality for decades and until now, we are still fighting for better treatment and a better future.
It could be said the first International Women’s Day was back in February 1908 in New York (Haynes). Thousands of women gathered together to strike against workplace inequality, sexual harassment, and other inequality issues. These strikes lasted around one year and on February 28, 1909, it was celebrated as National Women’s Day. Then in 1910, German women’s worker rights advocate Clara Zetkins led the idea of having a day dedicated to women and an “international movement advocating universal suffrage” (Haynes). This movement made a huge impact all around Europe.
In 1917, one of the biggest International Women’s Day protests happened in Russia. After the war, people were tired and hungry. On March 8th thousands of women gathered in Petrograd and protested for bread and “down with the tsar” (Figes). It is said that this protest was the start point for the Russian Revolution as strikes continue for days all over the country (Figes). Finally, in 1917, women were given the right to vote, which was a huge win for universal suffrage. A year later the Britain follow in the same footsteps and 3 years later was the United States (Haynes).
However, it was until 1975, it was set as an observance day and since then there has been a lot of changes that happened. But more changes are still needed.

Importance of International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day not only is about celebrating and supporting each other. It is also about understanding the current situation and look for ways to change and make a better future for women. To raise awareness and take action, to evaluate and analyze what has happened and thus plan what needs to be done. It is a very important day for many women, as every action and change made can affect thousands of womens’ lives.
Luckily, in this day and age, the internet and social media are a power source. For example, in recent years, #metoo movements, reproductive rights debate, and equal pay movements all contributed and brought the relevancy of International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month back. With more and more people coming out, taking action, and speaking up, we are growing strong. Each and every day women are fighting for equal opportunity, the rights to their own body and reproduction, and of course, work equality. By choosing to fight, stand up, support, and appreciate we are fighting for an equal, ethical, and definitely better future.

2021 International Women’s Day Theme

International Women's Day 2021 theme: #Choosetochallenge graphic
Every year International Women’s Day has a theme that’s been designated for people to show their participation and their support. The theme this year is #choosetochallenge.

A challenged world is an alert world. Individually, we’re all responsible for our own thoughts and actions – all day, every day.

We can all choose to challenge and call out gender bias and inequality. We can all choose to seek out and celebrate women’s achievements. Collectively, we can all help create an inclusive world.

From challenge comes change, so let’s all choose to challenge.

(IWD 2021 campaign theme: #ChooseToChallenge)

Challenge Women Faces Everyday

If you don’t know already, there are so many challenges and uphill battles women face every single day. These challenges include sexual harassment, equal pay, equal opportunities, voting rights, human rights, educations, and so much more. An important thing to support and participate in International Women’s Day is to acknowledge the challenges that women face, accept the reality, and understand the reality that women face every day. By acknowledging these challenges, we can then go on to starting conversations on how can we change and improve the current situation.

How to Support International Women’s Day

International Women's Day Sign: "Each time a women stands up for herself, she stands up for all women"
There are so many ways you can participate in International Women’s Day. Anyone can participate, it does matter what gender, sexual orientation, or religious belief you have, you can participate and support International Women’s Day. One of the cheapest ways is to acknowledge the hardship women face in your country, in the world, but acknowledging that you can join conversations that can further push the agenda for equality.

If you already understand and acknowledge the hardships, you can participate by actively call out inequality, bias against women, stand up for women in difficult situations, such as sexual harassment, or inequality. The amount of action you can take to help the women are endless, others include using genderless language, shopping at women-owned brands or business, even small things like helping out your mother, your sisters, or your wives on chores can make a difference, educate your daughters or granddaughters that they deserve equality and break the cycle. There are so much more and here is a list of 12 actions you can do according to the UN.

#ChoosetoChallenge Pledge

Another way to participate is to pledge your support for women with this year’s theme #choosetochallenge. That means you pledge to stand up against injustice and inequality against women. You will challenge and call out the hardship and inequality that a woman faces and show your support.

Let us make the world a better place for all

Supporting women’s equality is a powerful movement because indirectly you are supporting other minority groups and people who don’t have power. It doesn’t matter what gender you are, what your beliefs and sexual orientation are, you can make a difference by standing up. Let us show support for International Women’s Day and #choosetochallenge!

Resources:
Figes, Orlando. “The Women’s Protest That Sparked the Russian Revolution.” The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 08 Mar. 2017. Web. 04 Mar. 2021.
Haynes, Suyin. “Why International Women’s Day Is March 8: A Radical Reason.” Time. Time, 07 Mar. 2019. Web. 04 Mar. 2021.
“IWD 2021 Campaign Theme: #ChooseToChallenge.” International Women’s Day. Web. 04 Mar. 2021.
               
Author: Monica Chang
On my own ethical journey since 2010. Always happy to learn more!