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International Women’s Day – Wednesday 8th March 2023

Wednesday 8th March marks International Women's Day (IWD), a widely observed global holiday which focuses on the Women's Rights Movement. The day aims to bring attention to gender equality issues but what is the history of IWD and how can you get involved?

What is International Women’s Day?

International Women’s Day (IWD) has been observed since the early 1900’s. It was a period of great unrest and critical debate was occurring amongst women. In 1908, 15,000 women marched through New York City demanding shorter hours, better pay and voting rights. It is thought that the first National Women’s Day was observed on February 28th 1909 in the US. In 1910, Clara Zetkin, Leader of the ‘Women’s Office’ for the Social Democratic Party in Germany, came up with the idea of an International Women’s Day. She suggested this during the second International Conference of Working Women which was held in Copenhagen, the idea being that every year, in every country, there should be a celebration held on the same day in which women could press for their demands.

Fast forward to today, and International Women’s Day is still widely observed and commemorated across the world. In fact, it is an official holiday in many countries including Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, China (for women only), Cuba, Georgia, Guinea-Bissau, Eritrea, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Madagascar (for women only), Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Nepal (for women only), Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, and Zambia.

You can find out more about the history of International Women’s Day here.

What is the theme for this year’s IWD?

The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality. Specifically drawing attention to the underrepresentation of women in STEM education/careers and protecting the rights of women and girls in digital spaces.

The UN Women website states that “women have made untold contributions to the digital world in which we increasingly live. Their accomplishments have been against all odds, in a field that has historically neither welcomed nor appreciated them.”

As well as this, the main social media campaign for this year’s IWD is to #EmbraceEquity, you may see this across social media with photos of people embracing (or hugging) themselves to show their support.

How is international women’s day celebrated around the world?

We know that IWD is observed across the globe, but how do some countries commemorate the occasion?

In Romania, International Women’s Day is celebrated in a similar way to Mother’s Day and women are recognized by being presented with gifts and flowers. A similar practice is observed in China, where men are encouraged to present gifts to the women in their lives.  In addition to this, The United States celebrates Women’s History Month throughout the whole month of March, celebrating and supporting the study and commemoration of the vital role of women in American history. Women’s History Month is being adopted by other nations such as the UK.

Though International Women’s Day may seem more commercialised today, it’s important to recognise its history, roots, and use the day to bring attention to gender equality issues and violence and abuse against women.

How are we marking IWD at ARU and ARU College?

At ARU College our team are supporting International Women’s Day by wearing purple on Wednesday 8th March. Purple has been linked to women’s rights since the suffragist movement adopted it in the early 20th century – it is now the colour that represents International Women’s Day!

The university and SU are running the following events on 8th March and throughout the week to commemorate International Women’s Day:

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