It’s difficult to say exactly when IWD (International Women's Day) began. Its roots can be traced to 1908, when 15,000 women marched through New York City demanding voting rights, better pay and shorter working hours.
A year later, the first National Woman’s Day was observed in the US on February 28, in accordance with a declaration by the Socialist Party of America.
In 1910, a woman called Clara Zetkin – leader of the ‘women’s office’ for the Social Democratic Party in Germany – tabled the idea of an International Women’s Day. She suggested that every country should celebrate women on one day every year to push for their demands.
A conference of more than 100 women from 17 countries agreed to her suggestion and IWD was formed. In 1911, it was celebrated for the first time in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland on March 19.
In 1913, it was decided to transfer IWD to March 8, and it has been celebrated on that day ever since. The day was only recognized by the United Nations in 1975, but ever since it has created a theme each year for the celebration.
The original aim – to achieve full gender equality for women around the world – has still not been realized. A gender pay gap persists across the globe and women are still not present in equal numbers in business or politics. Figures show that globally, women’s education, health and violence towards women is still worse than that of men.
According to the World Economic Forum, the gender gap won't close until 2186. On IWD, women across the world come together to force the world to recognize these inequalities – while also celebrating the achievements of women who have overcome these barriers.
In 2017, women effectively worked "for free" for 51 days of the year because of the gender pay gap.
In 2017, women's rights dominated the news, with a global reckoning on sexual misconduct rippling through industries.
Following the outpouring of allegations against Harvey Weinstein and other prominent men in power, the #MeToo movement gave a voice to women on the abuse and harassment they suffer in film, fashion, music, politics and art.
TIME magazine then named the women speaking out against sexual and gender injustice their Person of the Year in December, naming the collective winner 'The Silence Breakers'.
The vocal, headline-grabbing fight for women's rights has only increased in 2018, with female actresses donating money and wearing black at awards ceremonies in support of #TimesUp and BBC journalist Carrie Gracie publicly resigning as China editor over unequal pay.
With gender parity still an apparent 168 years away, many are hoping the trajectory surrounding women's rights climbs as the year continues.
The theme for IWD 2018 is #PressforProgress, a nod to the growing global movement of advocacy, activism and support surrounding gender parity and sexism. Inspired by the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, the aim of the theme is to encourage people to continue the fight for equality.
Yes, it takes place on November 19 each year and International Men's Day is celebrated in 60 countries around the world.
The objectives of the day include a focus on men's and boy's health, improving gender relations, promoting gender equality, and highlighting positive male role models.
It is an occasion for men to celebrate their achievements and contributions, in particular their contributions to community, family, marriage, and child care while highlighting the discrimination against them.