Here’s why International Women’s Day remains vital in 2023

International Women's Day 2021

International Women’s Day 2023 will be celebrated worldwide on Wednesday (8 March). 

Intended to encourage gender equality and celebrate the social, economic and political achievements of women, International Women’s Day takes on a different theme each year. 

Having started more than a century ago, the day continues to be of great importance to women across the globe. 

What is International Women’s Day and when did it start? 

International Women’s Day stems from a labour movement in 1908 that saw 15,000 women march through New York City to demand shorter working hours, better pay and voting rights. The following year, the Socialist Party of America declared the first National Woman’s Day. 

In 1910, it became recognised as an international celebration. This was thanks to women’s right activist Clara Zetkin, who tabled the idea of an ‘international women’s day’ at a conference of working women in Copenhagen, Denmark.

It was first celebrated as an official international day on 19 March, 1911. Germany, Switzerland, Austria and Denmark were among the first countries outside the US to mark the day, which was supported by more than one million people.

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In 1975, during its international women’s year, the UN joined in the annual celebration. They supported its aims of campaigning for women right’s worldwide and made it part of the organisation’s mission.

By 1996, the UN began adopting an annual theme for the day, the first of which was “Celebrating the Past, Planning for the Future.”

Why is International Women’s Day still needed in 2023? 

The fight for equal rights for women continues into 2023, with the gender pay gap, violence against women and ongoing inequality in employment and healthcare still causing huge disparities. 

In Afghanistan, the Taliban’s resurgence has caused grave issues for women’s freedoms, with women banned them from entering parks, funfairs, gyms and public baths. Some women in Afghanistan also sa they have been beaten for standing up of their rights.

Meanwhile, a gender pay gap survey from 2022 revealed that companies pay women up to 63 per cent less than their male peers.

Other pressing women’s rights issues have arisen in Iran – where protests have continued following the death last year of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini while in custody – and, in America, where the Supreme Court overturned the landmark Roe vs Wade ruling on abortion last year.

What is the theme of International Women’s Day 2023?

The official theme for this year is “embrace equity”, which aims to “get the world talking about why equal opportunities aren’t enough”. 

The theme’s bid to create an inclusive world calls on everyone to do their part by embracing equity within “our own sphere of influence”. 

Last year’s theme was #BreakTheBias, which aimed to recognise the need for a world that is diverse, equal, free of stereotypes and discrimination. In 2021, the theme was #ChooseToChallenge, which focused on the need to call out gender bias and inequality. 

Elsewhere, the United Nation’s (UN) theme for International Women’s Day 2023 is “DigitAll: Innovation and technology for gender equality”, designed to celebrate women and girls who have contributed to technology and online education. 

According to statistics by UN Women, globally only 22 per cent of artificial intelligence workers are women. 

Further statistics on the UN’s website reveal that 73 per cent of women journalists from 125 countries had suffered online violence in the course of their work. 

How can you get involved?

The best way to get involved is to participate in the movement by sharing your #EmbraceEquity content across social media. 

In keeping with the hashtag, the pose for 2023 is to embrace yourself in a hug, with International Women’s explaining that “embrace” means to “willingly and enthusiastically accept, adopt and espouse”. 

The International Women’s Day website states people can share photos, videos and #EmbraceEquity content of online using the hashtags #IWD2023 and #EmbraceEquity. 

In a bid to educate people on the chosen theme, International Women’s Day has created a resource page that defines equality and equity. 

The page includes educational videos, with people being encouraged to share them with others. 

Similarly, UN Women has created visuals and messages for people to use and share free across social media. The UN Observance of International Women’s Day will also be held at 10am Eastern Time in the US (3pm GMT in the UK).