International Women’s Day is a global celebration of the social, economic, cultural, and political accomplishments of women worldwide. It also serves as a call to action for accelerating gender parity. But how present is this historic day in our current social consciousness? And how do we celebrate International Women’s Day in the year of 2022?
International Women’s Day (or IWD) was born out of the labor movement and has since become an annual event recognized by the United Nations. The seeds were first planted in the early 1900s when 15,000 women marched through New York calling for voting rights and shorter workdays (among other demands). Though the socialist party of America declared the first National Women’s Day just a year after the march, it wouldn’t be until 1975 that the UN decided to join the celebration and thereby made things official.
Clara Zetkin, a communist activist, and early proponent of women’s rights first proposed the idea of creating an international day at the Copenhagen Conference of Working Women in 1910. Here 100 women from 17 countries unanimously agreed to make IWD a reality. First celebrated in European countries such as Denmark, Austria, Germany, and Switzerland, IWD has set foot on its 111th celebration this year. But despite the rich history of this introspective and supposedly eye-opening day, it hasn’t been without its fair share of controversy.
A controversial holiday?
From the depoliticization of the day itself. To issues surrounding its symbolic colors and/or relevancy. International Women’s Day and its inherent commemoration of women’s struggle has been subject to much discussion and scrutiny the world over. In more recent years, the discourse surrounding the March 8th celebrations can often be summed up with this one question: Why do we still need International Women’s Day? There has no doubt been a lot of progress in the gender equality department since IWD was first implemented. But is there really no use for celebrating women in the year 2022?
No time for complacency
Though International Women’s Day and its many noteworthy annual themes strive to both celebrate women’s achievements and further discuss problems relating to gender equality. It is rarely without some de-emphasizing of its use and overall importance. Things are better now, right? So why do we need a whole day to remind us of how bad things once were? Yes, society has progressed beyond the times of women not being able to vote, drive, or hold principal titles in once male-dominated fields. But this year alone has proven just how much work still needs to be done when it comes to women’s rights.
Why we still need IWD
From the resurgence of the Taliban in Afghanistan, and its subsequent disbandment of the ministry for women’s affairs. The catastrophic sexual assault rates in India. The near-total abortion bans in Poland. And the gruesome murder of Sarah Everard (by a police officer) in the UK. It’s clear as day that we’re far from a reality in which we can confidently proclaim that harmful gender biases have been eradicated. And this is exactly why International Women’s Day is not only useful. But quite arguably necessary in our fight to close the global gender gap. Scores of activities are held worldwide as groups come together and celebrate women’s achievements whilst also raising awareness of the gender-specific violence we experience, sometimes at the hands of so-called progressive societies.
Many countries observe IWD as a national holiday. In Russia, flower sales double in the days leading up to March 8th. In China, many women have a half-day off from work. The US has dedicated the entirety of March to women’s history. And thereby utilize this time to honor the historic achievements of notable American women. In Italy, IWD (or La Festa Della Donna) is celebrated by the gifting of mimosa blossoms. Though modes of celebration undoubtedly vary from one culture to another. The honoring of women and their attainments has always been the overarching theme. So how can you celebrate International Women’s Day this year?
How you can join in
The possibilities for celebrating International Women’s Day 2022 are many. Hosting an event. Running campaigns on social media. Launching initiatives. Reporting on achievements. Donating to female-oriented charities. There really is no contribution too small. Especially if you see to it that the women in your immediate circle get to be front and center on this historic day. The theme for 2022 is #BreakTheBias so make sure to confront your own gender biases. And show support on social media.