Annually on March 8th, the achievements and advancement of women is celebrated through International Women’s Day. Each year there is a specific theme for International Women’s Day that defines the event. The International Women’s Day theme for 2015 is “Make it Happen.” Though the theme changes from year to year, the aims of International Women’s Day are the same. United Nations Women Watch states of International Women’s Day: “It is a day when women are recognized for their achievements without regard to divisions, whether national, ethnic, linguistic, cultural, economic or political. It is an occasion for looking back on past struggles and accomplishments, and more importantly, for looking ahead to the untapped potential and opportunities that await future generations of women.”
International Women’s Day has been an event for women’s equality since it’s inception in 1911. However, the roots of the movement go back to 1908. Across much of North America and Europe, the turn of the twentieth century saw labor movements engaging in activities such as strikes to improve working conditions. One such event was the garment workers strike in New York in 1908. In an act of solidarity, the Socialist Party of America designated the 28th of February 1909 as National Woman’s Day. The following year, in 1910, the Socialist International “established a Women’s Day, international in character, to honor the movement for women‘s rights and to build support for achieving universal suffrage for women.” It was not until 1975 that International Women’s Day was celebrated by the United Nations on March 8th.
This year on International Women’s Day, we are all urged to celebrate women’s achievements while calling for gender equality. With the theme #MakeItHappen, International Women’s Day 2015 is a time for all of us to reflect upon all of the progress that has been made for women’s rights and gender equality, and to look to the future by calling for changes in the present and future that will close the gender gap.
There are multiple ways to show support for International Women’s Day. One of the easiest ways to celebrate the acts of courage by ordinary women that had extraordinary roles in the history of women is to wear purple on March 8th. The #PaintItPurple campaign dates once again to 1908. The Women’s Social and Political Union in Great Britain adopted the colors purple, green and white to symbolize the cause of the Suffragettes. Purple was used specifically for it’s symbolism of justice and dignity, two things central to the women’s equality movement.
In addition to wearing purple, consider using social media to further spread the word and celebrate women. Change profile pictures, post photos or images in purple and use the hashtag #PaintItPurple to bring awareness to International Women’s Day. Show support by blogging, tweeting or Instagramming the message of gender equality and celebration of women. Other ways to celebrate include hosting International Women’s Day events locally, uploading content such as videos that educate people on gender equality and the plight of women or making a donation to a women’s charity. However it is celebrated, International Women’s Day is a day designated to celebrating all of the past achievements and struggles faced by women while looking forward to the immense potential of a future that treats women as equals.