The idea for an annual event celebrating women grew out of the labour movement in 1908, when 15,000 women marched through New York City demanding shorter working hours, better pay and the right to vote.
A year later the Socialist Party of America declared the first National Women’s Day.
The notion to make the day international came from German woman, Clara Zetkin, who suggested it at an International Conference of Working Women in Copenhagen in 1910. The 100 women present, who hailed from 17 different countries, agreed unanimously with her suggestion.
The day is an official holiday in at least 20 countries, including: Afghanistan, Cuba, Laos, Russia, and Vietnam. In many of these countries, tradition holds that men honour their mothers, wives, girlfriends, and colleagues with flowers and small presents.
This year's International Women's Day campaign has chosen the theme #ChooseToChallenge with the idea that a challenged world is an alert world and individually, we're all responsible for our own thoughts and actions.
The official United Nations theme for 2021 is: “Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world.”
Purple, white and green, the colours traditionally used by the Suffragette movement – a women’s movement in the UK in the early part of the 20th Century that campaigned for votes for women – are the same official colours of International Women’s Day. The colours were originally chosen for purple to signify justice and dignity, green to symbolise hope and white to represent purity.
Although the suffragettes used some tactics that we might question today, including hunger strikes and occasionally violence, it’s quite sobering to know that votes for women in the UK were only granted to women over the age of 21 in 1928, less than 100 years ago. After the First World War in 1918, some women over the age of 30 who met certain property qualifications were given the right to vote, which seems quite elitist by today’s standards.
Despite the progress made since that time, the Global Gender Gap Report stated in 2020 that gender parity will not be attained for 99.5 years. This means nobody alive today will live to see gender parity, nor likely will many of our children.
Since 1990, UN (United Nations) Women Australia has hosted IWD events around the country, representing the United Nations Gender Equality agency. This year, UN Women Australia will live stream some events, as COVID-19 has changed the way the organisation celebrates IWD.
Australian of the Year, Grace Tame, leader for positive change and survivor-advocate for victims of sexual assault, is this year’s headline speaker. She will be joined by a diverse range of inspirational women leaders. You can find out more at UN Women Australia.
rt health has strong female representation at all levels of the organisation. In total, females make up 61.1% of the staff and males 38.9%. And our Chief Executive Officer is female.