International Women’s Day is a global day designed to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. Marked annually on 8th March, the celebration commends women’s achievements, raises awareness surrounding women’s equality, lobbies for accelerated gender parity and fundraises for female-focused charities.

No one government, charity, corporation, institution, women’s network or media hub is responsible for International Women’s Day. Instead, it belongs to all groups collectively, everywhere, which is why it should be recognised in your workplace, private life and just about anywhere else we can think of.

Unbelievably, the International Women’s Day Community state that none of us will see gender parity in our lifetimes, nor will many of our children. It claims gender parity will not be attained for almost a century, making the work we are able to do now even more important.

How did International Women’s Day begin?

The early 1900s was a time of great unrest amongst the female population. Changes to the industrialised world spiked ‘radical’ ideologies as women became more vocal and active in campaigning for change.

On 8th March 1908, 15,000 women marched through New York City demanding shorter work hours, better pay, voting rights and an end to child labour. Fast forward to 1910, which saw Clara Zetkin (Leader of the Women’s Office for the Social Democratic Party in Germany) propose the idea of International Women’s Day at the International Conference for Working Women. The conference of over 100 women from 17 countries gave unanimous approval and the day was created.

The first International Women’s Day was celebrated in 1911 in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland. More than one million women and men attended rallies campaign for women’s rights to work, vote, be trained and end discrimination. It wasn’t until 1975 that the celebration was adopted by the United Nations.

By the new millennium, activity surrounding International Women’s Day had trailed off considerably. ‘Feminism’ wasn’t a popular topic. The platform launched in 2001 to reengage the world with the cause, launching themes for each year to allow campaigners to direct their activities. Past themes have included #ChooseToChallenge #EachForEqual #PledgeForParity #TheGenderAgenda

In 2011, 100 years after the first recognised day, President Barack Obama proclaimed March 2011 to be ‘Women’s History Month’ calling Americans to reflect on the accomplishments of women in shaping the country’s history.

How does International Women’s Day look in 2022?

International Women’s Day continues to push for equality. Whilst there are more women in the boardroom, it is the unfortunate fact that women are still not paid equally to that of their male counterparts, nor are they represented in equal numbers in business or politics. However, great improvements have been made.

This year’s theme #BreakTheBias pushes these areas to the forefront. Whether deliberate or unconscious, bias makes it difficult for women to move ahead. Knowing that bias exists isn’t enough. Action is needed to level the playing field.

Calling all supporters to strike the IWD 2022 pose, by crossing your arms to show solidarity, and posting a photo across social media aims to highlight the bias still seen. The cross represents a commitment to calling out bias, smashing stereotypes, breaking inequality and rejecting discrimination.

Show your support this International Women’s Day. Throughout March, Tell Jane can deliver an International Women’s Day workshop for your workplace. Here, our experienced ED&I trainers will explore the celebration in more detail, profile key female figures, offer top tips for recognising women in your workplace and demonstrate how everyone can play a part in accelerating gender equality. Email to find out more.

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