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International Women's Day: meaning, origin and why is it celebrated today

The annual event focused on the achievements, challenges and struggles of women around the world will be marked with numerous events to #breakthebias.

The annual global event focused on the achievements, challenges & struggles of women around the world will be marked with numerous events to #breakthebias.
International Women's Day: meaning, origin and why is it celebrated today

International Women’s Day (IWD) is being celebrated around the world today, the 8 March. It's a global celebration of the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. Held every year on the same day for over 100 years, IWD is also an opportunity to reflect on and further the push towards gender parity.

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Gender discrimination negatively impacts girls and women every day in almost every society. In some countries they cannot dress as they like, drive, work at night, inherit property and they also suffer a raft of oppressive laws including controlling who they can marry or obliging them to marry in the case of forced marriages.

And even in countries, such as the US, where many women's rights are protected by law, 42% of working women say they have faced discrimination at work based on their gender, while women are regularly paid less for doing the same job as their male counterparts.

Sadly, despite the many years of struggle for a fairer world, the need for International Women's Day remains as important as ever.

What is the 2022 theme for International Women's Day?

Each year IWD is given a theme, which often relates to contemporary events, trends and struggles. This year the focus is on 'breaking the bias', as explained on the official website.

'Imagine a gender equal world. A world free of bias, stereotypes and discrimination. A world that's diverse, equitable, and inclusive. A world where difference is valued and celebrated. Together we can forge women's equality. Collectively we can all #BreakTheBias.

Celebrate women's achievement. Raise awareness against bias. Take action for equality.'

What is the origin of International Women’s Day?

The earliest version of IWD began in 1908 when 15,000 women took part in a New York City march, calling for shorter working hours, better pay and the vote. A year later, the Socialist Party of America marked the anniversary of the march by declaring it the first National Woman’s Day.

At this stage it was only an American celebration but in 1910 Clara Zetkin addressed the International Conference of Working Women in Copenhagen and suggested that they make the event international.

The 100 women in attendance unanimously supported the idea and in 1911 the first International Women’s Day was celebrated in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland, as well as in the United States.

IWD remained a stand-alone event until 1975, when the United Nations began marking the day and organised celebrations. In 1996 the UN began issuing a theme for each year’s celebration, the first of which was "Celebrating the past, Planning for the Future".

What to expect from International Women’s Day 2022

Following last year's covid pandemic impacted edition, the 111th International Women’s Day will be marked with the symbol of the crossed arms. And you can show your support in a simple way.

Bias, whether deliberate or unconscious, makes it difficult for women to move ahead, however, being aware that this bias exists isn’t enough, action is needed to level the playing field. This is why this year's focus is about actively calling out gender bias, discrimination and stereotyping each time you see it.

Join in by getting a snap of you and others crossing your arms to show your solidarity.

Strike the IWD 2022 pose and share your #BreakTheBias image, video, resources, presentation or articles on social media using #IWD2022 #BreakTheBias to encourage further people to commit to helping forge an inclusive world.

You can also register in the IWD Community and access their resources.

Across the world there are many, many events, often these are online so you can join them easily no matter where you are. Check out what's on.


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