International Women’s Day 2023: What is this year’s theme and how to take part in it?
Last week marked the beginning of International Women’s Month -- a 31 day celebration of women everywhere and the monumental impact they’ve had all over the world.
The specific holiday in honour of women’s societal and economical accomplishments always falls on 8 March, known as International Women’s Day (IWD).
The event was first recognized by the United Nations in 1975 and has since been celebrated by more than 80 countries worldwide. The day has also been a major part of the women’s rights movement and helped create conversations about gender biases.
This year, the International Women’s Day website and the UN have set a theme which focuses on gender equity and equality.
Here’s everything you need to know about IWD, from how it started to how to celebrate this year’s theme.
How did International Women’s Day begin?
The origin of the holiday dates back to 1908 when 15,000 women marched through New York City to demand for change within their society, as noted on IWD’s official website. They demanded shorter working hours, better pay and voting rights.
On 28 February 1909, the first National Women’s Day was observed. One year later, a woman named Clara Zetkin, a member of the Social Democratic Party in Germany, suggested the idea of a Women’s Day that would be held “every year in every country” on the same day “to press for their demands.”
After an agreement was made in Denmark in 1911, International Women's Day was honored for the first time in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland on 19 March. It later got moved to 8 March in 1914 and has stayed the same since.
IWD was officially recognised by the United Nations in 1975.
What is this year’s theme?
The International Women’s Day website announced that this year’s theme is #EmbraceEquity. The organisation notes that a “focus on gender equity needs to be part of every society’s DNA”.
They also highlight the difference between equity and equality, explaining that the former means “creating an inclusive world,” through acts like “challenging gender stereotypes, calling out discrimination, drawing attention to bias”, and “embracing diversity”.
Another goal of the campaign is to “get the world talking about Why equal opportunities aren’t enough”.
A post shared by International Women's Day (@internationalwomensday_global)
“People start from different places, so true inclusion and belonging require equitable action,” the site reads.
The UN’s theme is “DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality”. It is focused on the “untold contributions to the digital world” that women have made and continue to make. The organisation also noted that “women make up only 22 per cent of artificial intelligence workers globally.”
“Today, a persistent gender gap in digital access keeps women from unlocking technology’s full potential,” the UN’s site reads. “Their underrepresentation in STEM education and careers remains a major barrier to their participation in tech design and governance. And the pervasive threat of online gender-based violence—coupled with a lack of legal recourse—too often forces them out of the digital spaces they do occupy.”
The UN says that on this year’s IWD, they are “calling on governments, activists and the private sector alike to power on in their efforts to make the digital world safer, more inclusive and more equitable”.
How can you take part in IWD this year?
IWD’s official website says that one way that people can embrace equity is through “reflect on how we can all be part of the solution, not the problem”. This can be done through talking to your friends, family or colleagues about ways to “work collectively to impact positive change”
The organisation also encourages social media users to share a picture of themselves doing the IWD #EmbraceEquity pose, in which you wrap your arms around your shoulders as if you’re giving yourself a hug. People are also urged to submit their photos to the International Women’s Day 2023 gallery.
Additionally, the IWD website explains how you can find some worldwide events, from community gatherings to concert performances, going on near you. On the website, you can specify what country and city you’re located in to find your local or virtual IWD event.
Another way to take part in the campaign is by sharing visuals from their IWD social media package on social media. The organisation will also be broadcasting an event in observance of the holiday at 10 am ET on 8 March, with the theme of: “DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality”
The broadcast will celebrate “the women and girls who are championing the advancement of transformative technology and digital education and curtailing the impact of the digital gender gap on widening economic and social inequalities”.
It will also include “ technologists, innovators, entrepreneurs, and gender equality activists” in order to “provide an opportunity to highlight the role of all stakeholders in improving access to digital tools”.