Keele University

Celebrating International Women's Day

A snowman

Originally called the International Working Women's Day, the International Women’s Day (IWD) is celebrated on 8 March every year, by both women and men around the world. The day is a celebration of women’s economic, cultural, political and social achievements. It also aims to inspire the next generation of girls and young women.

How is the day celebrated?
In some countries the IWD is celebrated in a similar way to Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day, where women are given a greeting card or a gift such as flowers. In many countries the day is also used to raise awareness of women’s political and human rights. IWD is an official holiday in many countries around the world, including China, Ukraine and Vietnam. 

Is there a theme for 2016?
This year’s International Woman’s Day theme aims to raise awareness of gender inequality around the globe. Data from the World Economic Forum shows that in many countries women still get paid much less than men. It also shows that overall, there are less female leaders, politicians, skilled workers and university students than there are male. You can read the full report online, which also lists the countries around the world that are working hard to make men and women's roles in society, business and politics more equal.

What is the history of the International Women’s Day?
The first IWD was celebrated on 28 February 1909, in New York, USA. In 1911 the day was celebrated in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland where more than one million women and men attended rallies to campaign for women's rights to vote and for better pay at work. In 1914 throughout Europe, the day was also used to protest the World War I. In 1975 the United Nations began celebrating the International Women’s Day on 8 March.

Is there an International Men’s Day?
Yes, the International Men’s Day is held on 19 November every year. The day focuses on promoting gender equality and highlighting men’s contributions and achievements around the world.