International Women’s Day, as the name implies, is dedicated to celebrating womanhood, their social, political, cultural, economic achievements and their significant contributions to society. The day also emphasises the importance of gender equality. On this day, people from all across the world come together to partake in the celebration of womanhood. The day has come to be increasingly associated with feminism and equal rights for women. Every year, March 8 is celebrated as International Women’s Day. Before the UN adopted it in 1977, the day was mostly celebrated in socialist and Communist countries. The UN celebrates the day on the basis of different themes. This year, the theme is #PressforProgress.
Observed from the 1900s, Women’s Day is not associated with any one group. But the day brings together state governments across the world, many women welfare and empowerment organisations, non-profits and charities, each focusing on celebrating women. The day was initially celebrated as International Working Women’s Day and the earliest celebration is believed to be held at a socialist-political event in New York City in 1909.
Themes play an important role in the celebration of the day. It widens the context of women and their rights across the world and highlights the atrocities women face and the need to end them. For instance, in 2010, the International Women’s Day the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) brought to the world’s attention, the physical and mental hardships displaced women endure, as a result of armed conflicts and humanitarian crisis. In 2011, former US president Barack Obama declared the month of March as Women’s History Month. However, in 2011, there were people in Egypt’s Tahrir Square who reportedly came out to harass women who had come to stand up for their rights on the occasion.
In 2012, the UN theme for International Women’s Day 2012 was Empower Rural Women – End Hunger and Poverty. In 2013, the UN theme for International Women’s Day was ‘A promise is a promise: Time for action to end violence against women’. In 2014, it was ‘Equality for Women is Progress for All’; in 2015, ‘Empowering Women, Empowering Humanity: Picture it!’; in 2016, the theme was “Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step It Up for Gender Equality”. And in 2017, “Women in the Changing World of Work: Planet 50-50 by 2030” was the theme.