Tuesday, 8 March 2016

International Women's Day: Who, What and Why?

   International Women's Day marks an important occasion for women across the globe, celebrating a number of elements including women's economic, political and social achievements throughout history. However, this day is not only a celebration, but a message to the world that we, as a gender, still have a way to go before complete parity. 

   I've put together a brief guide on International Women's Day, its history and why it still matters today.

   First established in its current form in 1911 by German Marxist theorist and women's rights activist, Clara Zetkin, International Women's Day was supported by 100 women from 17 countries to promote equal rights, including suffrage, for all women.

   Prior to this, a Women's Day was organised by the Socialist Party of America in 1909 in New York, followed by an International Women's Conference in 1910 in Copenhagen.

   Since 1996, the UN has created a theme to each International Women's Day, bringing to attention matters surrounding violence against women, HIV and AIDS, access to education and more. 

   In 2016, the theme is 'Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step It Up For Gender Equality'. This focuses on the UN's goal to end poverty, combat inequalities and promote prosperity whilst protecting the environment by the year 2030. Use the '#PledgeForParity' tag to get involved on social media.

    Why is International Women's Day still important? Because gender equality has not yet been achieved in all countries. British women may have got the vote in 1918, but Saudi Arabian women only received the right last year. Only 19 heads of state, out of a possible 196, are women. More than a third of women have experienced physical or sexual violence at some point in their lives.

   Although these figures are an improvement in comparison to the world fifty years ago, there is still progress to be made - and it's up to everyone (not just women) to make these changes to achieve equality.

   What do you think of this year's IWD theme? What would you like to see altered in terms of women's rights? How are you celebrating this day? Let me know in the comments below!

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