Rania Mitsiou -

What caused it to begin?

International Women's Day, or IWD for short, is a day to raise awareness about the challenges that women face worldwide and to take action to create a more equitable and just society. It originated in the labor movement and is now a recognized yearly occasion by the United Nations (UN). It all started in 1908 when 15,000 women marched through New York City calling for more flexible work schedules, higher wages, and the right to vote. The Socialist Party of America established the first National Woman's Day a year later.

Clara Zetkin, a communist activist, and supporter of women's rights proposed making the day an international holiday. She made the suggestion in 1910 in Copenhagen at the World Congress of Working Women. One hundred women from 17 different nations were there, and they unanimously endorsed her suggestion.

Over the years, International Women's Day has grown into a global movement, with events and activities taking place in countries around the world. It is an opportunity to celebrate the progress that has been made in advancing women's rights and gender equality and to recommit to the work that still needs to be done.

Why March 8th?

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International Women's Day was established on March 8 in honor of the day in 1917 when a group of Russian manufacturing workers in Petrograd (now St. Petersburg) organized a protest to call for bread and the end of World War I. The demonstration, which was a part of a larger strike movement, signaled the start of the Russian Revolution, and shortly after it came to power, the provisional government gave women the right to vote. The importance of this day for advancing women's rights and gender equality contributed to March 8th being designated as International Women's Day.

Is there an International Day for Men?

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There is, and it falls on November 19th. However, it has only been marked since the 1990s, and the UN does not recognize it. More than 80 nations around the world, including the UK, celebrate it.

According to the organizers, the day honors "the positive value men provide to the world, their families, and communities" and aims to promote positive role models, increase awareness of men's wellbeing, and enhance gender relations.

What is the theme for IWD 2023?

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"DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality" is the UN's theme for 2023. The purpose of this theme is to acknowledge and appreciate the contributions that women and girls are making to technology and online learning. IWD this year will also focus on the effects of the digital gender gap on inequality for women and girls because, according to the UN, if nothing is done, women's lack of access to the internet will cost low- and middle-income nations' GDPs $1.5 trillion by 2025.

But, there are other projects present as well. The International Women's Day website, which claims to "offer a platform to help forge good change for women," has picked the theme #EmbraceEquity, with organizers and events trying to "challenge gender stereotypes, call out prejudice, draw attention to bias, and seek out inclusiveness."

Why do we need it?

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In the midst of war, violence, and policy changes in their individual nations throughout the last year, women have fought for their rights in numerous places, including Afghanistan, Iran, Ukraine, and the US.

The Taliban's return in Afghanistan has slowed the growth of human rights, as women and girls are now prohibited from pursuing higher education, doing the majority of occupations outside the home, traveling long distances alone, and being told to hide their faces in public. Additionally, religious minorities and other marginalized groups are also facing increased persecution and discrimination under Taliban rule. The Taliban's strict interpretation of Islamic law, or Sharia, is being enforced through brutal means, including public executions and amputations. The international community has condemned these actions and called for the protection of human rights in Afghanistan, but the situation remains tense and uncertain.

Mahsa Amini, 22, was killed in protests in Iran after she was detained by morality police in Tehran on September 13, 2022. Mahsa was accused of breaking one of Iran's harsh laws requiring women to cover their hair with a scarf.

Since then, protests have persisted around the nation, with many Iranians – both male and female – asking for more gender equality and an end to the current political system. "Women, life, freedom" is the motto of the protests. Authorities have called them "riots" and used force in response. There have been over 500 fatalities.

The UN reports that gender disparities in food insecurity, hunger, poverty, and increasing gender-based violence have gotten worse in Ukraine and around the world as a result of war-related price increases and shortages since Russian forces invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022.

On June 24, 2022, the US Supreme Court reversed Roe v. Wade, a landmark law that had safeguarded American women's right to an abortion. This decision sparked significant protests and outrage in the US. Several US women have turned to individuals in Mexico for assistance in getting an abortion after a landmark decision there effectively decriminalized the practice in 2021.

Is there any progress?

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However there has been progress in recent years.

After a 10-year battle, the European Parliament adopted a law in November 2022 to guarantee that more women are represented on the boards of publicly traded corporations by July 2026. There are many women who are competent for high-level positions, and the EU asserted that its new regulation will provide them a genuine opportunity to obtain them.

In the meantime, Colombia and Armenia revised their parental leave laws, and Spain introduced legislation supporting menstrual health leave and expanding access to abortion.

According to the International Olympic Committee, Beijing 2022 will host the most gender-balanced Winter Games, with women making up 45% of competitors. Notwithstanding the fact that gender parity was not attained, new rules encouraged more equal coverage of women's sport.

36 teams will compete in the significantly expanded 2023 Fifa Women's World Cup. The US Soccer Federation agreed to pay its men's and women's teams equally before to the competition, making it the first organization in the sport to make such a commitment. For more than five years, female athletes have argued their case in numerous lawsuits and equal wage demands.

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