The significance of International Women’s Day
Popular women’s activist Gloria Steinem once explained “the story of women's struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to anyone organization but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights.” While this historic statement was made many years ago, the conversation around gender quality is both ongoing and still very real today.
Steinem’s famous quote encapsulates the importance of International Women’s Day, a day to pay homage to the many inspiring women in our lives.
We take a look at why IWD is important, what you can do to participate and how you can champion change.
What is International Women’s Day?
International Women's Day (IWD) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. IWD has roots dating back to the early 1900’s, while The United Nations officially included the day on its calendar in 1977. Celebrated by many countries around the world, the achievements of women are recognised in a day of celebration, reflection, and action. All ethnic, cultural, and political divisions are cast aside to signify equality amongst women. You can read more about the history of IWD here.
How is IWD celebrated?
Most, if not all, western countries celebrate International Women’s Day. You may notice IWD events in your community, both before, during and after the official day on March 8 this year. These take shape in the form of workshops, conferences, rallies, parades, and social gatherings. It doesn’t just take an event to celebrate IWD. You can gather with your own friend and family circles or participate in the #ChooseToChallenge2021 theme on social media. You can head to the International Women’s Day website here to see what is on in your local community.
What is #ChooseToChallenge about?
International Women’s Day this year lends itself to the theme of #ChooseToChallenge, challenging us to call out gender bias and inequality. If you’ve been following this theme, particularly on social media, you’ll notice those participating uploading photos of themselves or others with a hand raised. This is to signify that you’ve accepted the challenge and are ready to stand against in equality. In the lead up to IWD, there is more than 38 thousand #ChooseToChallenge hashtags on Instagram alone.
How can I create change, or challenge inequality?
Exactly as the #ChooseToChallenge hashtag emphasises, choose to challenge gender bias and inequality wherever you might see it. The easiest way? Start with yourself. Your own actions and words speak volumes. Be a role model to your children, siblings, friends, and community. Think about phrases you might say that could be derogatory to others. Look to empower or support those who are marginalised or disadvantaged. When you hear or see gender bias, be a voice of reason. Approach the topic or situation, if you feel comfortable to do so, with education and insightfulness as opposed to hostility. Carry the following mantras with you not just on IWD, but all days. You can brush up on your reading about equal rights and gender bias by visiting the International Women’s Day website.