International Women’s Day has served for more than a century now as a day to honor the achievements of women globally.
Observed on March 8, the kaleidoscope of IWD celebrations share a common thread of celebrating progress. IWD was first celebrated in 1911 in four European countries, which held rallies drawing thousands of supporters. Until the 1970s, the day was largely recognized in Europe, but the significance of the day began expanding after 1975, when the United Nations made March 8 the official date. IWD has been used to draw awareness to everything from voting rights to women and AIDS, and in some locales is cause for showering mothers, daughters, sisters, and wives with candy and cards.
From a colorful Google Doodle on Google's search page, which replaces the first 'g' with the universal symbol for female, to conferences on ending domestic violence, here is a small sampling of the many ways the day is being celebrated worldwide.
Many women in China will have a half-day off of work in honor of IWD, and some employers even shower their female employees with gifts, according to CNN. In Indonesia, one local organizer is sharing a song she wrote called Lebih dari Berlian, or More than a Diamond, which celebrates Indonesian women. The idea is to have young students learn the song, and sing it together every March 8 and April 21, the date of Indonesia’s Women’s Day.
In Fiji, women’s rights organizations are bringing together young girls to talk about the importance of strong female characters in popular culture and fiction. The University of Canterbury in New Zealand, meanwhile, will host a breadth of panel discussions, open to the public, on women in the media, politics, and business to honor the date.
+ According to UN Women, nearly 20 countries and territories in the region have passed laws prohibiting domestic violence.
– More than 80 percent of women in Asia Pacific are employed in “vulnerable jobs,” like unregulated, home-based work, and the UN estimates this can cost the region close to $89 billion annually.
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