Marking International Women’s Day

International Womens Day

International Women’s Day (which falls on 8th March) is an important date in the calendar. It is a day to celebrate women, globally and to push for change.

The origins of IWD

People don’t seem clear about when and where International Women’s Day started. But it was fully adopted as a women’s movement in around 1967. The United Nations began celebrating the day in 1977.

Why is this date so important?

On International Women’s Day people take stock and think about gender inequality and the work that still needs to take place.

It also allows us to look at the positive changes. The gender pay gap among all employees in the UK was 15.5% in 2020, down from 17.4% in 2019. Women aren’t as prepared for retirement and there are also 34% female members of parliament in the UK (embarrassingly, this is the highest ratio ever). There is still work to do, but things do seem to be going in the right direction.  

International Women’s Day

This year’s International Women’s Day (8 March) comes as the world continues to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic and its staggering impacts on women. Some are being pushed into poverty, some have lost their jobs, there’s been an alarming spike in domestic violence and the unpaid care burden has also been highlighted.

This year, the IWD movement will highlight the pressing need for the 2021 Generation Equality Forum. The forum will take place virtually from 29-31 March in Mexico and in France in June. It’s hoped that it will catalyse urgent investments, policies and programmes to accelerate global gender equality.

The COVID-19 pandemic has taught us something undeniable: diversity in leadership makes a difference and the pandemic response in countries led by women has captured the headlines. Yet, research on the theme of this year’s International Women’s Day, “Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world“, reveals that only three countries in the world have 50 per cent or more women in parliament.

Globally 119 countries have never had a woman leader as a Head of State or Government. At the current rate of progress, gender parity will not be reached in parliaments before 2063, in ministerial positions before 2077 and in the highest positions of power before 2150.

The Generation Equality Forum, which is organized by UN Women and co-hosted by the governments of Mexico and France, in conjunction with youth and civil society, will be a major opportunity to cement women’s rights and leadership as we recover from COVID-19.

The Action Coalitions, which have been shaping the Generation Equality agenda, will announce bold new implementation agendas on women’s rights, while the #ActForEqual campaign to be launched on International Women’s Day, will create a groundswell of awareness and action on gender equality in the run-up to the forum.