Celebrating International Women’s Day 2020

Written by Selina Hallam

International Women's Day

Every year on March 8th, International Women's Day (IWD) is observed around the world in order to celebrate the cultural, economic, social and political achievements of women and this day also marks a call to action for advancing equality of the sexes. Activist, feminist and journalist Gloria Steinem once explained, "The story of women's struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organization but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights."

A short history of International Women’s Day

Since the 1800s, women have been campaigning for change, with Americans Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton demanding social, civil, religious and political change for women in New York in 1840. By 1908, 15,000 women marched through the city's streets to demand better pay, shorter hours and voting rights and by the following year, the US saw the first National Woman's Day.

In 1910, at the International Conference of Working Women in Copenhagen, Clara Zetkin (the leader of the SDP's 'Women's Office' in Germany) proposed an International Women's Day, and there was unanimous approval from over a hundred women who were attending from seventeen countries. The first-ever IWD was held the following year, on March 19th, 1911, where it was honoured in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Denmark and by 1913, it was permanently moved to March 8th and celebrated globally.

International Women's Day,

62 years later, in 1975, International Women’s Day was celebrated by the United Nations and by 1977, the General Assembly proclaimed a United Nations Day for Women’s Rights and International Peace to be observed by Member States on any day of the year, in accordance with their national or historical traditions.

This year, the United Nations says:

"International Women’s Day is 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. The world has made unprecedented advances, but no country has achieved gender equality.

Fifty years ago, we landed on the moon; in the last decade, we discovered new human ancestors and photographed a black hole for the first time. In the meantime, legal restrictions have kept 2.7 billion women from accessing the same choice of jobs as men. Less than 25 per cent of parliamentarians were women, as of 2019. One in three women experience gender-based violence, still.

Let’s make 2020 count for women and girls everywhere."

International Women's Day 2020

Each year, there is a campaign theme for International Women's Day and for 2020, this is 'An equal world is an enabled world', which encourages all individuals to actively choose to celebrate women's achievements, fight bias, challenge stereotypes, broaden perceptions and improve situations and to collectively help create a gender-equal world.

International Women's Day
In these modern times, for 27 countries, including Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus and Kazakhstan, International Women’s Day is a public holiday and many cities around the world host various events to inspire, empower and encourage women and celebrate their achievements.

What will you be doing to honour International Women's Day this year? Even if it's as simple as sending a Hallmark e-card to your favourite female family member or friend, get involved and celebrate women around the world today and every day.

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