International Women’s Day is a global celebration that takes place on March 8 every year. The day is devoted to celebrating the achievements of women and promoting gender equality. This year, the campaign theme is #EmbraceEquity, while the UN’s theme is ‘DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality’. The UN is urging people to challenge gender stereotypes, call out discrimination, and promote inclusion. The UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, has emphasized that gender equality is a fundamental human right and a solution to global challenges. International Women’s Day began as National Women’s Day in the US in 1909 and was adopted internationally in 1911. It is now celebrated as a national holiday in many countries around the world, with events and activities to promote gender equality. However, progress toward gender parity has been stalled by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Index estimates that it will take 132 years to close the global gender gap.
Why It’s Always Special
- Each year, a specific theme is highlighted to raise awareness of various challenges that women face worldwide. For example, in 2022, the theme was “Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow,” which focused on the impact of climate change on gender equality.
- IWD has a rich history, originating from the labor and voting rights movements. It was first celebrated in 1911 in Austria, Denmark, Switzerland, and Germany. Today, IWD provides an opportunity to celebrate women’s accomplishments and recognize the work that still needs to be done. Despite progress in some areas, women continue to face significant challenges globally, including poverty, displacement, and social and economic consequences worsened by the pandemic.
- IWD is also an opportunity to raise funds for women’s issues and provides an opportunity for education and awareness. Schools, organizations, and corporations can take advantage of IWD to provide education, evaluate their commitment to gender equality, and connect with people globally. Furthermore, IWD provides a chance for individuals to reflect on their own beliefs and biases and take action toward greater gender equality.
- In summary, International Women’s Day is a call to action, reminding us of the progress we’ve made and the work that still needs to be done. It’s an opportunity to celebrate women’s achievements, raise awareness of challenges, and promote global connections toward a more equitable world.
- The COVID-19 lockdowns have resulted in a surge of homeschooling, with women bearing the brunt of the increased domestic workload. Women have always taken on more housework, such as teaching children, managing the household, cooking, and cleaning, with women doing three times as much unpaid care work compared to men. Since the pandemic, data from 16 countries have shown that women with children at home now spend 31 hours per week on childcare, which is an increase from 26 hours previously.
- One of the many consequences of the gender inequality present in society is that women face higher poverty rates than men. This is due to various factors, such as wage inequality, unpaid labor, unemployment, and the gender education gap. A report by the American Progress revealed that 12.9% of women in the US were living in poverty in 2018, with non-white women, including Native Americans, Native Alaskans, Black women, and those from a Hispanic background, having the highest poverty rates.
- In many countries, women face barriers to accessing financial services such as opening bank accounts or obtaining credit without the permission of a male guardian or even being required to be married. Even in areas without such restrictions, there is still a significant gender gap in banking access, with only 65% of women having bank accounts compared to 72% of men. Some countries, such as India, are working to close this gap by implementing policies to increase women’s access to financial services.
- Body image issues are a significant problem for women, with a significant number feeling so bad about their appearance that they self-harm. The media is often to blame, with 87% of women comparing their bodies to images they see in traditional and social media and half of those making unfavorable comparisons. Campaigns such as ‘Be Real’ are working to promote body positivity and combat these issues.
- Women make up the majority of essential workers in the healthcare sector, yet they are often underrepresented in leadership positions and are paid less than men. Additionally, early personal protective equipment was often sized to fit men, leaving women on the front line exposed to the virus unnecessarily.
- Lockdowns and the rise of homeschooling have increased the domestic workload, with women bearing the brunt of this burden. Even before the pandemic, women were doing three times more unpaid work at home than men. Data from 16 countries have shown that women with children spent an average of 31 hours per week on childcare during COVID-19, an increase from 26 hours previously.
- Due to factors such as wage inequality, unpaid labor, unemployment, and gender education gaps, women are more likely to experience poverty than men. In the US, 12.9% of women were living in poverty in 2018, with the highest rates found among Native Americans, Native Alaskans, Black women, and women of Hispanic background.