International Women's Day: Theme, History and Significance
International Women's Day is celebrated every year on 8 March in many countries around the world. It is a day when women are recognized for their achievements without regard to divisions, whether national, ethnic, linguistic, cultural, economic or political. It is an occasion for looking back on past struggles and accomplishments, and more importantly, for looking ahead to the untapped potential and opportunities that await future generations of women.
International Women's Day: Theme
The Campaign theme for International Women’s Day 2019 is #BalanceforBetter.
The theme focus at gender equality, greater awareness of discrimination and a celebration of women's achievements.
The theme for International Women’s Day 2018 is "The Time is Now: Rural and urban activists transforming women’s lives”.
In 1975, during International Women's Year, the United Nations began celebrating International Women's Day on 8 March. Two years later, in December 1977, the General Assembly adopted a resolution proclaiming a United Nations Day for Women's Rights and International Peace to be observed on any day of the year by Member States, in accordance with their historical and national traditions. In adopting its resolution, the General Assembly recognized the role of women in peace efforts, development and urged an end to discrimination with an increase of support for women's full and equal participation.
International Women's Day first emerged from the activities of labour movements at the turn of the twentieth century in North America and across Europe. Let us see the history behind celebrating the International Women’s Day.
History of International Women’s Day
1909: The first National Woman's Day was observed in the United States on 28 February. The Socialist Party of America designated this day in honour of the
1908 garment workers' strike in New York, where women protested against working conditions.
1910: The Socialist International, meeting in Copenhagen, established a Women's Day, international in character, to honour the movement for women's rights and to build support for achieving universal suffrage for women. The proposal was greeted with unanimous approval by the conference of over 100 women from 17 countries, which included the first three women elected to the Finnish Parliament. No fixed date was selected for the observance.
1911: As a result of the Copenhagen initiative, International Women's Day was marked for the first time (19 March) in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland, where more than one million women and men attended rallies. In addition to the right to vote and to hold public office, they demanded women's rights to work, to vocational training and to end discrimination in the job.
1913-1914: International Women's Day also became a mechanism for protesting World War I. As part of the peace movement, Russian women observed their first International Women's Day on the last Sunday in February. Elsewhere in Europe, on or around 8 March of the following year, women held rallies either to protest the war or to express solidarity with other activists.
1917: Against the backdrop of the war, women in Russia again chose to protest and strike for "Bread and Peace" on the last Sunday in February (which fell on 8 March on the Gregorian calendar). Four days later, the Czar abdicated and the provisional Government granted women the right to vote.
1975: On 8th March United Nation started celebrating UN International Women’s Year in 1975.
2011: Former US President Barack Obama proclaimed March as Women’s History Month to show their extraordinary achievements and their role in shaping the history of nation.
Since those early years, International Women's Day has assumed a new global dimension for women in developed and developing countries alike. The growing international women's movement, which has been strengthened by four global United Nations women's conferences, has helped make the commemoration a rallying point to build support for women's rights and participation in the political and economic arenas. Increasingly, 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 UN and Gender Equality
The Charter of the United Nations, signed in 1945, was the first international agreement to affirm the principle of equality between women and men. Since then, the UN has helped create a historic legacy of internationally-agreed strategies, standards, programmes and goals to advance the status of women worldwide.
Over the years, the UN and its technical agencies have promoted the participation of women as equal partners with men in achieving sustainable development, peace, security, and full respect for human rights. The empowerment of women continues to be a central feature of the UN's efforts to address social, economic and political challenges across the globe.
No doubt to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) it is necessary to have transformative shifts, integrated approaches and new solutions, particularly for advancing gender equality and empowerment of all women and girls. We know that innovation and technology provide unprecedented opportunities and trend also indicate about growing gender digital divide and women are under-represented in the field of science, technology, engineering, mathematics and design. To achieve transformative gains for the society it is necessary to develop gender-responsive innovations. It is vital that women's ideas and experiences equally influence the design and implementation of the innovations that shape our future societies.
According to the sixty-third session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW63), in 2019 priority is given to the industry leaders, game-changing start-ups, social entrepreneurs, gender equality activists and women innovators to examine the ways in which innovation can remove barriers and accelerate progress for gender equality, encourage investment in gender responsive social systems and build services and infrastructure that meet the needs of women and girls.
International Women's Day is an opportunity to accelerate the 2030 Agenda of building momentum for the effective implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, especially goal number 5 that is to Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls and goal number 4 that is to Ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning.
It is rightly said that “Life doesn’t come with a manual, it comes with a mother”.