International Women’s Day (IWD) is celebrated annually on 8 March, this year being on a Sunday. It celebrates the social, cultural, economic and political achievements of women across the globe. The day not only aims to inspire people to act in the ongoing fight for gender equality but also focus on unity and advocacy in a world where the differences and injustices between women and men are as vast as ever.
IWD First Celebration
International Women’s Day was first celebrated in 1911 when a million women and men rallied in support of women’s rights. The day was inspired by America’s National Women’s Day. The year after that in Denmark, delegates approved the idea of International Women’s Day, and the next year the International Working Women’s Day (what it was first called), was celebrated in Denmark, Germany, Switzerland, and Austria.
Today, the day is not country, group or organisation specific, and belongs to all groups collectively, everywhere. “The story of women’s struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organisation but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights,” explained Gloria Steinem, world-renowned feminist, journalist and activist.
It’s merely about taking the day, making it yours, and doing what you can to truly make a positive difference for women. There are plenty of ways to embrace Women’s day; from supporting women-owned businesses, sending the women in your life IWD-inspirational messages, and exchanging flowers.
IWD 2020 Theme & Hashtags
The International Women’s Day theme for 2020 is #EachforEqual because it’s on each of us to help create a gender-equal world. It encourages us to remember that an equal world is an enabled world. We are all not only responsible for our own thoughts and actions, all day, every day, but we also have an active choice to challenge stereotypes, fight bias, broaden perceptions, improve situations and celebrate women’s achievements.
Gender-equality can be healthier, wealthier and more harmonious, but should be implemented in boardrooms, governments, media coverage, workplaces, sports coverage, in health, wealth and more.
The IWD general hashtags, apart from the theme’s hashtag, include #IWD2020, #InternationalWomensDay, and #SeeHer.
2020 and Beyond
Although women are present and visible today, the unfortunate fact is that women are still not paid equally to that of their male counterparts. They are still not equally present in business or politics, and their health, education, and the violence against them is worse than that of men. However, significant improvements have been seen and inspire women to celebrate their achievements.
This day is an official holiday in many countries including Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Cuba, Georgia, Guinea-Bissau, Eritrea, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Vietnam and Zambia. In China, Madagascar, and Nepal, only women have an official holiday.
As a tradition, men honour their mothers, wives, girlfriends, colleagues etc. with flowers and small IWD gifts. A global web of rich and diverse local activity connects women from all around the world, and many corporates actively partake in running their own events and campaigns. IWD is increasing awareness and status year on year.
The IWD theme is not a day theme, but a year theme. It’s time to make a difference, think globally and act locally.
List of Events for Women (Sandton)
- 6 March 2020: Global Women’s Empowerment Summit South Africa
- 8 March 2020: Woman of the Year Awards 2020
- 14 March 2020: Women’s Legal Business Brunch
- 28 March 2020: Dialogues for Foreign Women Empowerment Breakfast
Read more about International Women’s Day here.