Writer: Jiya Jindal
Editor: Veronica Yung
Graphic Designer: Pat Sevikul
March 8th is a day known for celebrating and cherishing the rights and importance of women. Feminism has grown as a movement from the 20th Century to fulfill the aim of the equality of men and women. The collective contribution of women from different nations who strive to cross the bridge of inequality marks the existence of this day; International Women’s Day (IWD) is a symbol of women’s progress in economics, politics, and society.
This day came into existence through the labor movement in the United States in the year 1908, where 15,000 women in New York marched to demand lesser hours of work, higher wages, and women’s suffrage. Looking at the immense participation of women in the fight for their rights, Clara Zetkin, a communist activist and advocate for women’s rights, proposed the idea of an International Women’s Day during the International Conference of Working Women at Copenhagen, Denmark. Although the idea had been proposed, the event had no fixed date. The association of March 8 to International Women’s Day came together in the year 1917 when Russian Women led a march leading to women getting the right to vote. In 1975, United Nations sealed it as an official holiday with the theme of “Celebrating the Past, Planning for the Future”.
The symbol of IWD uses the colors purple, green and white, which were proposed by the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU) in the UK. Purple signifies the impartiality and respect for women, green symbolizes hope of a bright coming future, white represents purity.
Each year, the United Nations dedicates a theme to the event. Examples of previous themes have been Empowering Women, Empowering Humanity (2015); Planet 50-50 Gender Equality (2016); Think equal, build smart, innovate for change (2019). This year’s theme is “DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality” which signifies that the usage of digital technology can be used to bring gender equality through the availability of mass education for all women and girls. To build a sustainable future, the integration of digital media can be used to assist women into various platforms like in education, opportunities for jobs, and basic involvement of women in tackling world crises. Gender equality and empowerment remains the focus of the message of IWD.
Showing that you support women is the most you can do. Prepare a sweet gesture such as giving a thank you card or some chocolates to your mothers, sisters, wives, and daughters; it is a great way to express your gratitude for their contribution in your life and will make them feel special. Supporting women outside of the family may include buying from women-led businesses, donating to women’s organizations supporting women in education and employment, highlighting the importance of women in the workplace, or attending International Women’s day events. The main gist of the occasion is to understand women’s contribution to the world and honoring it.
IWD is celebrated differently in different countries. For example, in Italy, women are given mimosa flowers and are given free access to museums and hospital treatment. In the United Kingdom, workshops and demonstrations are held to empower women, while in the United States, parades are organized and free facilities for women such as groceries, access to public transportation, and complimentary items at selected restaurants are provided.
Some women have made noteworthy contributions to society, and should be celebrated this IWD: Emma Watson serves as a Goodwill Ambassador in the United Nations and empowers the movement, #HeforShe. Her inclusion of men in aiding the progressing women and equality is an important aspect of the movement as men would understand that they have a partner in leading the world which is an equal counterpart of the society, and together both men and women would be able to improve society. Malala Yousafzai is a significant figure in securing the rights of women and their education since she was shot by the Taliban. She has the courage to live big dreams and even wanted to be the prime minister of her country at the young age of seventeen. Michelle Obama opened new doors of opportunity for girls’ education and led campaigns of women’s right of health and wellness. Elizabeth Blackwell is an important historical figure as she was the first American woman to attain a medical degree and showed the world that women are capable of working in STEM related fields, which led to many organizations investing in STEM education for girls.
This day exemplifies the noteworthy contributions of women to the community and lets the whole world know that women are as important to humanity. Without women, there would be many things left incomplete such as caregiving as women are a symbol of care themselves. In this world, empowering women can do wonders as with support and opportunities to explore new doors, women can make a difference.
From a Woman, To a Woman, For the Women: Happy International Women’s Day!