Today is International Women’s DayMarch 8, 2021
The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is CHOOSE TO CHALLENGE. Women and men are committing to challenging gender inequality as part of this year’s celebrations.
Australia has a vibrant and robust collection of women’s support groups participating in this year’s International Women’s Day on March 8. These almost 180 groups know that women’s rights are human rights. They work hard to raise women’s voices in society. They aim to ensure that women are engaged in educational and policy-making initiatives that affect their daily lives.
What is International Women’s Day?
The Socialist Party of America organised the first International Women’s Day on February 28, 1909. On this day, nearly 15,000 women marched through New York City’s streets, demanding better working conditions.
The movement quickly spread — first to Russia, then to Germany, and finally throughout the world. By 1914, the March 8th celebration mobilised women worldwide to fight for the right to vote. March 8 has remained the movement’s annual celebration day ever since.
Today, the International Women’s Day (IWD) community focuses on calling attention to women’s achievements. Efforts also seek to name and remedy the roadblocks to full gender equality. Through this annual celebration, we are encouraged to make International Women’s Day every day so that a girl’s future is safe, equal, and full of opportunity.
Why do we celebrate International Women’s Day?
International Women’s Day is celebrated to mobilise women the world over to:
- Acknowledge the accomplishments of women
- Name the barriers to women’s equality
- Identify ways to work individually and collectively toward gender equality
Celebrating International Women’s Day helps raise awareness of the obstacles women face at home, in the workplace, at school, in politics, and in society generally. IWD highlights diversity among women. The annual day seeks to highlight marginalised voices to achieve real equity for women and among women.
Women’s support groups in Australia
Women are well organised in Australia! There are nearly 180 women’s support groups across the country. They are organised into 6 alliances working to identify and address issues facing Australian women, especially marginalised populations.
The National Women’s Alliance is the umbrella organisation for women’s groups in Australia. It works to address everyday social and cultural issues such as:
- Violence against women
- Economic policies affecting women
- Disaster preparedness for women and families
- Gender equity
- Services for aboriginal and rural women
The National Council of Women in Australia (NCWA) encourages women and girls to participate in Australian society. Through education and advocacy, the NCWA works to ensure the equity and security of all in Australia.
The International Women’s Development Agency empowers women to leadership. The organisation seeks nothing short of gender equality for every woman in Australia, across the region, and worldwide.
Learning about these organisations and participating in their events is a great way to celebrate International Women’s Day this year.
The facts of gender inequality
While women and their male allies continue to work hard for gender equality, the statistics say there are plenty of opportunities for positive change. These figures demonstrate the gap between where we are, and where we want to be:
- As of November 2020, the pay gap between men and women averaged 13.4%.
- The Medical Journal of Australia reports that 19-25% of all women in Australia will experience domestic violence.
- As a matter of fact, 1 out of every 2 women will experience sexual harassment in their lifetime, 1 in 3 will experience physical or sexual abuse, and 1 in 5 have experienced domestic violence.
- 50% of mothers experience workplace discrimination resulting from their pregnancy or associated family leave.
Women’s rights are human rights. Focusing on educational programs, social support services, and policy initiatives that help women will strengthen Australian society.
Equality for women in the form of equal pay enhances the economy. Equal access to healthcare creates a more vibrant society. Equal educational opportunities make for a more hopeful future. Be active in International Women’s Day and be a part of creating a just and peaceful Australia!
How to celebrate International Women’s Day and work for gender equality
There are many ways, both virtual and in-person, to participate in IWD 2021. Remember, this year’s theme is Choose to Challenge. Every time you speak about women’s rights and equal standing in your community, you are celebrating and participating!
Use these links to learn more and be active on International Women’s Day:
- Here is a local, national, and international events database.
- Search the #ChooseToChallenge hashtag to see IWD 2021 stories on social media.
- Explore volunteer opportunities with the International Women’s Development Agency.
- Encourage men to be involved in IWD celebrations and activities.
- Wear purple! It’s the colour of IWD and symbolises justice and dignity.
- Organise an online event with your friends that supports women’s voices.
- Read books by women about the lives of women, especially with a book club.
- Donate to your favourite women’s organisation.
However you choose to celebrate, have a happy International Women’s Day!