International Women’s Day: Each for Equal

by WV Marshall

Each year on March 8, the achievements of women all across the world are celebrated on International Women’s Day.

International Women’s Day not only commemorates women’s social, economic, cultural and political achievements, but also observes a call to action for accelerating women’s equality.

The theme for this year’s celebration is “Let’s All Be Each for Equal,” with the hashtag, #EachforEqual.

“An equal world is an enabled world,” the International Women’s Day website says. “Individually, we’re all responsible for our own thoughts and actions - all day, every day.”

“We can actively choose to challenge stereotypes, fight bias, broaden perceptions, improve situations and celebrate women’s achievements,” the website added. “Collectively, each one of us can help create a gender equal world.”

Also, to mark the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, U.N. Women is launching the campaign, “Generation Equality – Realizing Women’s Rights and an Equal Future.”

Among the issues the campaign is highlighting are equal pay; equal sharing of unpaid care and domestic work; an end to sexual harassment and all forms of violence against women and girls; responsive healthcare services; and equal participation in the decision-making process in both the political realm and everyday life.

The IWD website also explains how specific colors honor women. Purple symbolizes women internationally. From a historical perspective, IWD said, the combination of purple, green and white symbolizes women’s equality arising from the Women’s Social and Political Union in the United Kingdom in 1908.

The origins of International Women’s Day dates back to the early 1900s, when a National Women’s Day was observed on Feb. 28, 1909, in New York. It was organized by the Socialist Party of America at the behest of activist Theresa Malkiel.

The idea caught on in Europe. On March 19, 1911, more than a million people attended rallies worldwide to celebrate the first International Woman’s Day. In 1975, recognized as International Women’s Year, the U.N. General Assembly began celebrating March 8 as International Women’s Day. By 2014, it was celebrated in more than 100 countries, and had been made an official holiday in more than 25.

Interestingly enough, it was Russia that unwittingly set March 8 as International Women’s Day, Good Housekeeping said. During World War I, while men were at war, Russian women were at home, dealing with food shortages and a government inattentive to women – despite International Women’s Day being an official holiday in Russia since 1913. On March 8, 1917 (which was Feb. 23 in the former Russian calendar), thousands of Russian women marched to demand change, which helped paved the way for Russian women to be granted voting rights soon after.

International Women’s Day 2020 also advocates several missions to help build a gender equal world in the areas of technology, athletics, health, creative arts, and work and entrepreneurism.