Women standing in Kenya's elections endure abuse and attacks


  • The day is observed on March 8 every year across the world
  • It brings attention to the problems faced by women globally
  • Women's Day has become a platform for women to speak out and promote change over the years

International Women's Day (IWD) is celebrated annually by people across the world on March 8 and mainly focuses on the women's rights movement.

The day celebrates and honours the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women and also emphasises on issues faced by them such as gender equality, reproductive rights, and violence and abuse against women.

The history of International Women's Day

The idea of International Women's Day originated from labour movements which began in North America and Europe during the early 20th century.

The earliest version of "Women's Day" organised by the Socialist Party of America in New York City Feb. 28, 1909. A labour activist named Theresa Malkiel proposed this as a way to commemorate the widespread protests against garment workers.

This inspired German delegates to support the idea at the 1910 International Socialist Women's Conference. Though no specific date was set, they proposed the idea of a special "Women's Day" be organised annually.

In order to give women a louder voice to further their demands for equal rights, women's rights activist Clara Zetkin proposed an international women's day at the second International Congress of Working Women in Copenhagen, Denmark, the following year. Following this, the inaugural celebration of International Women's Day took place in March 1911, and the date was set as March 8 in 1913.

In 1996, the United Nations announced its first annual theme - "Celebrating the Past, Preparing for the Future." IWD became a mainstream holiday celebrated globally in 1977 after the UN General Assembly proclaimed March 8 as International Women's Day in favour of women's rights and world peace.

Theme for International Women's Day in 2023

There are more than one theme to celebrate International Women's Day across the world.

The theme for 2023 as set by the UN is "DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality". The aim of the theme is to recognise and celebrate the contributions by women and girls towards technology and online education.

Meanwhile, the International Women's Day website, which was designed to "provide a platform to help forge positive change for women," has chosen the theme #EmbraceEquity. It seeks to "challenge gender stereotypes, call out discrimination, draw attention to bias, and seek out inclusion."

The significance of International Women's Day

The development of women's rights all over the world is one of the most noteworthy accomplishments of International Women's Day.

International Women's Day has become a platform for women to speak out and promote change over the years. It has been used to bring attention to problems like gender-based violence, disparities in pay, under-representation of women in politics and leadership positions, lack of education, lack of access to healthcare facilities, and more.

Women in many countries now have the ability to vote, and laws have been created to protect them from workplace harassment and discrimination. Women have also made enormous strides in education and healthcare, with more girls attending school and receiving life-saving medical care than ever before.

Many women across the world are still fighting for their rights

Even today, women in many countries have been fighting for the betterment of women's status in society. They still face many issues such as poverty, violence, and prejudice based on colour, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation and more.

In the past year, women from countries like Afghanistan, Iran, Ukraine and the U.S. have been fighting for their rights amid war, violence and policy changes in their respective countries.

As the Taliban takes control of Afghanistan, the many new rules imposed by them have been a hindrance to the growth of human rights. Women and girls are now prohibited from pursuing higher education, denied employment for the majority of occupations outside the home, banned from travelling long distances alone (without a male chaperone), and are being told to hide their faces in public.

Meanwhile, women in the U.S. have been fighting against the implementation of anti-abortion rules in various places across the country.

The commemoration of International Women's Day serves as a call to action for all people and organisations to join forces to build a better society for our future generations. It helps us address issues and build a future in which women are valued, given the chance to thrive, and empowered to realise their full potential.