International Women’s Day (IWD) honors the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. It also marks a call to action to accelerate women’s equality. This year’s theme – Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow – recognizes the contribution of women and girls around the world who are fighting climate change.
IWD was first celebrated in 1911 and the UN began sponsoring it in 1975. Although it occurs on March 8, its significance extends throughout the year. What we do every day matters. There will be no progress toward any of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals or other initiatives without equal progress on creating a world free of bias, stereotypes and discrimination.
Efforts to achieve gender equality align naturally with efforts to fight climate change. The climate crisis disproportionately impacts women, putting lives and livelihoods at risk. At the same time, women are essential to finding and implementing solutions. They are taking action at all levels to drive change. It’s up to us to elevate their voices and support their work.
In the United States, Women’s History Month is an offshoot of IWD. It began as Women’s History Week in 1980 and was officially expanded to a full month by Congress in 1987. It’s a time to commemorate and celebrate women’s vital contributions to American history, culture and society.
Appropriately, this year’s theme is “Women Providing Healing, Promoting Hope” – a tribute to the efforts of caregivers and frontline workers during COVID-19, as well as the many ways women have provided healing and hope throughout history.
As with IWD, we must do more than simply pay lip service to this annual event. At a time when women are bearing the brunt of so much suffering and unrest throughout the world, we need to find ways to become part of the movement. How to get started? We can educate about the history of women’s rights, advocate for issues that continue to plague women today, and dedicate some time to spread the word via blogs and social media. This blog post features many more ideas on how to get involved, including helpful links and resources.