by Shane Foster
Wednesday 8th March marks the celebration of International Women’s Day, an annual global acknowledgement of the women’s rights movement which brings attention to some of the big issues in society, such as gender equality, rights on reproduction, and violence and abuse towards women.
Whilst some believe that this day is a fairly modern celebration, it is simply more well known in our society through increased awareness as well as continual heightened campaigning, whereas in actual fact it has a very long history dating back to the early 1900’s.
The first known observance of what was then called ‘National Woman’s Day’ took place in February 1909 in New York City, and this was followed by an ‘International Socialist Women’s Conference’ in Denmark the following year, where the idea of a strategy to promote equal rights was agreed. And so in March 1911, the first ‘International Women’s Day’ was held.
Across several european countries, including Austria, Denmark and Switzerland, women began demanding the right to vote and hold public office, and they protested against employment sex discrimination. This annual event continued to attract more and more countries to join the cause, including Russia and Germany.
In London, as part of the Suffragette movement, led by the renowned Sylvia Pankhurst, protesting for women’s rights continued, and in 1918 the right for women to vote was finally agreed, however this did not include all women until 10 years later when the Representation of the People Act was amended in 1928.
Nowadays, International Women’s Day is an opportunity for us to continue to build a world that is free from bias, stereotypes and discrimination. It is an opportunity to create a world that is diverse, equitable and inclusive, where difference is valued and celebrated.
It is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women, as well as a call to action for accelerating women’s equality, and in 2023 the key message is to #EmbraceEquity.