International Women’s Day is celebrated in more than 100 countries across the world on 8 March. Jami-Lei wonders how much we actually know about this day.
The campaign theme for this year’s International Women’s Day (IWD) is #BalanceforBetter, according to the official website. As in previous years, we will be celebrating women’s achievements on this day, but with a particular focus on gender-balance in today’s world. Sponsorships, events and plans have been in the works for months leading up to IWD and it’s an exciting time for many avid supporters of this cause. For some, IWD is a day of activism in the name of women’s rights, for others it is a celebration of womenkind.
I had a few questions on how this day came to be – who initiated it, for example? So I did a bit of research. Along the way, I came across these interesting facts and thought I’d share. So here they are:
- The first recorded National Woman’s Day was held in New York in 1909 at the suggestion of Theresa Malkiel, Russian-born American suffragist. The first international event recognising Women’s Day was started by the Suffragettes in 1911.
- Purple is the global colour representing women, however historically, this was purple, green and white. This combination is no longer used due to the colour white representing purity in women, which is now viewed as a controversial and outdated concept.
- IWD has 10 values in total: justice, dignity, hope, equality, collaboration, tenacity, appreciation, respect, empathy and forgiveness. You can find their full descriptions on the official IWD website.
- The United Nations named 1975 ‘International Women’s Year’ and since then have sponsored IWD.
- The first annual theme announced for IWD was ‘Celebrating the past, planning for the future.’ Since 1975, many organisations have announced annual themes, with some being celebrated more than others.
- The official date, March 8, comes from a Russian national holiday commemorating the day women gained suffrage in 1917.
- Approximately 44 charities aimed at supporting women and girls are officially recognised by IWD, with the World Association of Girl Guides and Girls Scouts (WAGGGS) making 2019’s charity of choice.
- In 1975, around 90% of women took a ‘day off’ to demonstrate the importance of their contribution to the working world. Today, Iceland holds the title of ‘The best country for women’, as measured by the Global Gender Gap Index.
- In 2018, parliament flew an IWD flag over both Houses to mark 100 years since women’s right to vote in the UK. Dawn Butler, the shadow equalities minister, proposed the plan with less than 24 hours before the international day.
- The day is an official national holiday in many countries around the world. In China, women only are granted half a day off from work. Russia celebrates the day with team lunches, gifts and celebration days in public schools.