The history of International Women’s Day (IWD) is a long and fascinating one, and this year’s celebration promises to be better than ever before. From the laboratory to the workplace to the ballot box, women around the world are exercising their power like never before, and on March 8, women everywhere will come together to celebrate their accomplishments and plot a new path forward.
March 8 is International Women’s Day, and this event has grown enormously from its relatively humble roots. The first Women’s Day was held in 1908, and the event attracted some 15,000 women. Those politically and socially active women held a march through New York City to demand their voting rights, as well as shorter working hours and better pay.
In 1910, the leader of the women’s office for the Social Democratic Party of Germany originally tabled the idea of an International Women’s Day. Instead, she suggested that every country set aside one day to push for the things women found important. Even so, the movement eventually did go international, and now women can enjoy more than just a single day of celebration.
In 2011, President Barack Obama designated March as Women’s History Month. This celebration of the contribution women have made, and continue to make, was an important milestone in the women’s rights movement, and that movement is going stronger than ever.
Why Do We Celebrate It?
The original goal of International Women’s Day was full gender equality for women across the globe. This goal has still not been realized, and that is why it is important to celebrate International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month.
In the more than 100 years since the original Women’s Day, women around the world have made enormous strides, but there is much more left to do. Even today, a gender-based pay gap persists, both in the developed world and around the globe.
Women are still not fully represented in the business world and in the world of politics. While more women are running for political office and entering the business world, their representation in Congress and CEO offices remains relatively small. Figures also show that on a global scale, women’s education and health is still worse than men’s, and violence against women remains a significant challenge throughout the world.
This Year’s Theme
This year’s International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month promise to be among the most important in recent times. The success of the #MeToo movement and the number of women entering politics are further proof of their political power, and it is still important to press for further progress.
That is why the theme of the celebration this year is #PressforProgress. This hashtag, and the movement behind it, reflects the importance of advocacy, education and support for gender parity and the fight against sexism.
In many ways, the #PressforProgress movement is a fitting follow-up to the success of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, and it takes its inspiration from those earlier efforts. The overarching goal of #PressforProgress is to encourage all people, women and men alike, to continue their vocal fight for women’s equality.
If you would like to help, there are plenty of ways to show your power and exercise your activism. Whether you attend a local IWD event in your community, stump for your favorite female candidate or volunteer at a local shelter, you can make this year’s International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month the best one yet.