Close this search box.
True Self Care Logo

International Women’s Day: What, Why, and How?

International Women’s Day (IWD) is a global celebration of the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. It is also a day to raise awareness about the challenges and inequalities that women face around the world, and to call for action to achieve gender parity. IWD is observed every year on March 8, and has a history of over a century. In this blog post, we will explore some of the key aspects of IWD, such as its origins, themes, events, and impact.

What is the origin of IWD?

The first IWD was held in 1911, following a proposal by Clara Zetkin, a German socialist and feminist leader, at the International Conference of Working Women in Copenhagen in 1910. Zetkin suggested that every country should have a day to honor the women’s rights movement and to demand universal suffrage for women. The idea was inspired by the previous demonstrations and strikes by women workers in the United States and Europe, especially the 1908 garment workers’ strike in New York, which involved 15,000 women demanding better working conditions and voting rights.

The first IWD was celebrated by over a million people in Austria, Denmark, Germany, and Switzerland, with rallies, marches, speeches, and cultural events. The date of March 8 was chosen to commemorate the 1857 strike of women garment workers in New York, which was brutally suppressed by the police. However, some sources claim that the date was actually chosen to coincide with the 1917 Russian Revolution, which was sparked by a women-led protest in Petrograd on March 8 (February 23 in the Julian calendar).

Since then, IWD has been celebrated in different ways and with different focuses in different countries and regions, depending on the social and political context. Some of the milestones of IWD include:

  • 1914: IWD was marked by protests against World War I and by women’s suffrage campaigns in several countries, such as Germany, Russia, and the United Kingdom.
  • 1917: IWD was a catalyst for the Russian Revolution, as thousands of women took to the streets to demand bread, peace, and freedom. The provisional government granted women the right to vote shortly after.
  • 1921: IWD was officially recognized by the Communist International and became a major holiday in the Soviet Union and other communist countries.
  • 1945: The Charter of the United Nations, the first international agreement to affirm the principle of gender equality, was signed.
  • 1975: The United Nations (UN) celebrated IWD for the first time and declared 1975 as the International Women’s Year.
  • 1977: The UN General Assembly adopted a resolution proclaiming March 8 as the UN Day for Women’s Rights and International Peace.
  • 1995: The Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, a comprehensive and ambitious agenda for women’s empowerment and human rights, was adopted at the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, China.
  • 2000: The UN Security Council adopted Resolution 1325, which recognized the role of women in peace and security and called for their increased participation and protection in conflict and post-conflict situations.
  • 2015: The UN launched the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which included 17 goals and 169 targets to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure peace and prosperity for all. Goal 5 specifically aimed to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.
  • 2021: IWD was celebrated under the theme of #ChooseToChallenge, which encouraged people to challenge and call out gender bias and discrimination, and to celebrate women’s achievements.

What are the themes of IWD?

Every year, IWD has a theme that reflects the current issues and priorities of the women’s rights movement. The theme is chosen by the IWD Steering Committee, which consists of representatives from various organizations and groups that support IWD, such as UN Women, International Labour Organization, World Health Organization, Amnesty International, and others. The theme is meant to inspire and guide the IWD events and activities around the world, and to raise awareness and generate action on specific topics.

Some of the past themes of IWD include:

  • 1996: Celebrating the Past, Planning for the Future
  • 1997: Women at the Peace Table
  • 1998: Women and Human Rights
  • 1999: World Free of Violence Against Women
  • 2000: Women Uniting for Peace
  • 2001: Women and Peace: Women Managing Conflicts
  • 2002: Afghan Women Today: Realities and Opportunities
  • 2003: Gender Equality and the Millennium Development Goals
  • 2004: Women and HIV/AIDS
  • 2005: Gender Equality Beyond 2005: Building a More Secure Future
  • 2006: Women in Decision-Making
  • 2007: Ending Impunity for Violence Against Women and Girls
  • 2008: Investing in Women and Girls
  • 2009: Women and Men United to End Violence Against Women and Girls
  • 2010: Equal Rights, Equal Opportunities: Progress for All
  • 2011: Equal Access to Education, Training, and Science and Technology: Pathway to Decent Work for Women
  • 2012: Empower Rural Women: End Hunger and Poverty
  • 2013: A Promise is a Promise: Time for Action to End Violence Against Women
  • 2014: Equality for Women is Progress for All
  • 2015: Empowering Women, Empowering Humanity: Picture It!
  • 2016: Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step It Up for Gender Equality
  • 2017: Women in the Changing World of Work: Planet 50-50 by 2030
  • 2018: Time is Now: Rural and Urban Activists Transforming Women’s Lives
  • 2019: Think Equal, Build Smart, Innovate for Change
  • 2020: I am Generation Equality: Realizing Women’s Rights
  • 2021: Choose to Challenge

The theme for IWD 2024 has not been announced yet, but it will likely reflect the ongoing challenges and opportunities for women in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, the climate crisis, the digital transformation, and the social movements for justice and democracy.

What are the events of IWD?

IWD is celebrated in various ways across the world, depending on the local culture, traditions, and needs of the women and their communities. Some of the common types of events include:

  • Rallies, marches, and demonstrations: These are public gatherings that aim to raise awareness, express solidarity, and demand change on various issues affecting women, such as violence, discrimination, poverty, health, education, work, politics, and more. They also celebrate the achievements and contributions of women in different fields and sectors. Some of the largest and most famous rallies and marches include the Women’s March on Washington in 2017, which drew over 5 million people worldwide; the International Women’s Strike in 2018, which involved millions of women in over 50 countries; and the Global Climate Strike in 2019, which was led by young women activists such as Greta Thunberg.
  • Conferences, seminars, and workshops: These are educational and professional events that aim to share knowledge, skills, and experiences on various topics related to women’s rights and empowerment. They also provide opportunities for networking, collaboration, and advocacy among women and their allies. Some of the notable conferences and seminars include the UN Women’s Conferences, which have been held every decade since 1975; the Women Deliver Conferences, which focus on the health and well-being of women and girls; and the TEDxWomen events, which feature inspiring talks by women leaders and innovators.
  • Cultural and artistic events: These are creative and expressive events that aim to showcase the talents, perspectives, and stories of women through various forms of art, such as music, dance, theater, film, literature, and visual arts. They also celebrate the diversity, beauty, and strength of women and their cultures. Some of the popular cultural and artistic events include the WOW (Women of the World) Festivals, which feature performances, exhibitions, and discussions by women artists and activists from different backgrounds and disciplines; the Vagina Monologues, a play by Eve Ensler that explores the experiences of women through their sexuality and identity; and the One Billion Rising, a global campaign that uses dance and music to end violence against women and girls.
  • Fundraising and charity events: These are philanthropic events that aim to raise money and resources for various causes and organizations that support women and girls, especially those who are marginalized, vulnerable, or in need. They also raise awareness and generate action on the issues and challenges that women and girls face, such as lack of access to education, health care, sanitation, and economic opportunities. Some of the prominent fundraising and charity events include the IWD Charity Partners, which are selected by the IWD Steering Committee every year and receive donations from the IWD website and events; the Dress for Success, a global organization that provides professional attire and career development services to women in need; and the Malala Fund, a foundation that advocates for girls’ education and empowerment.

What is the impact of IWD?

IWD has a significant and positive impact on the lives of women and girls, as well as on the society and the world at large. Some of the benefits and outcomes of IWD include:

  • Increased awareness and education: IWD helps to inform and educate people about the history, achievements, and challenges of women and girls, and to inspire and motivate them to take action for gender equality
  • Equality and empowerment: IWD helps to advance and promote the rights and opportunities of women and girls, and to empower them to achieve their full potential and to participate in all aspects of life. IWD also recognizes and celebrates the achievements and contributions of women and girls in various fields and sectors, such as science, technology, engineering, mathematics, arts, sports, politics, business, and more.
  • Solidarity and collaboration: IWD helps to foster and strengthen the solidarity and collaboration among women and girls, and between women and men, across different countries, regions, cultures, and backgrounds. IWD also encourages and supports the formation and growth of networks, organizations, and movements that advocate for and work towards gender equality and women’s empowerment.
  • Action and change: IWD helps to inspire and mobilize people to take action and make change for gender equality and women’s empowerment, both individually and collectively. IWD also provides a platform and a voice for women and girls to express their needs, demands, and aspirations, and to hold governments, institutions, and society accountable for their commitments and obligations.


Here are some of the frequently asked questions (FAQs) about IWD:

  • Q: Is IWD a public holiday?
  • A: IWD is not a public holiday in most countries, except for some that have officially declared it as such, such as Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, China (for women only), Cuba, Georgia, Guinea-Bissau, Eritrea, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Madagascar (for women only), Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Nepal (for women only), Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, and Zambia. However, even in countries where IWD is not a public holiday, many people still celebrate it in various ways, such as attending events, wearing purple (the official color of IWD), or sending messages and gifts to the women in their lives.
  • Q: How can I get involved in IWD?
  • A: There are many ways to get involved in IWD, depending on your interests, skills, and resources. Some of the common ways are:
    • Attend or organize an IWD event in your community, workplace, school, or online. You can find or register an event on the IWD website or on social media platforms using the hashtag #IWD2024.
    • Support or donate to an IWD charity partner or another organization that works for women’s rights and empowerment. You can find a list of IWD charity partners on the IWD website or on the IWD Fundraising page.
    • Learn or teach about the history, achievements, and challenges of women and girls, and about the issues and topics related to gender equality and women’s empowerment. You can find a lot of resources and materials on the IWD website or on the IWD Education page.
    • Celebrate and acknowledge the women and girls in your life, and the women and girls who inspire you, by sending them messages, cards, flowers, or gifts, or by sharing their stories and achievements on social media platforms using the hashtag #IWD2024.
    • Challenge and call out gender bias and discrimination, and advocate for gender equality and women’s empowerment, in your everyday life, in your personal and professional relationships, and in your community and society. You can also join or support campaigns and movements that work for these causes, such as the #ChooseToChallenge, #HeForShe, #MeToo, #TimesUp, #GenerationEquality, and others.
  • Q: What is the official logo and color of IWD?
  • A: The official logo of IWD is a stylized image of a woman’s face with the letters IWD on it. The logo was designed by Annie Wood, a graphic designer and artist from Australia, who won a global competition in 2009. The logo is meant to represent the diversity, strength, and unity of women and girls around the world. The official color of IWD is purple, which symbolizes dignity, justice, and self-respect. Purple was also one of the colors of the suffragette movement, along with green and white, which stood for hope and purity, respectively.
  • Q: Where can I find more information about IWD?
  • A: The best source of information about IWD is the official website,, which provides a lot of resources, materials, and updates about IWD. You can also follow the official social media accounts of IWD on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and YouTube, or subscribe to the IWD newsletter. Additionally, you can search for news, articles, videos, podcasts, and books about IWD on the internet, or visit your local library, museum, or community center.

In This Post:

Editor`s Pick:
Stay In Touch

Never miss an important update. Be the first to receive our exclusive beauty tips straight into your inbox.