International Women’s Day 2021: History, significance and theme
International Women’s day is observed on March 8 every year on a global scale. It is all about celebrating the social, political, economic and cultural achievements of women around the world. It calls to arms all the women of the world to come together to fight against gender disparity and establish themselves as the invaluable members of society that they are. People all over the world are called to witness the incredible achievements of women and participate in activities and rallies that are targeted towards greater equality.
In the modern world, it is easy to forget just how far we have come in the fight for equality and recognition, not just as women but as equal and productive members of society and the human race. Whether it was during times of economic depression or the world wars, women stepped to fill roles that they were previously denied. Agitated at being denied a seat at the proverbial table, Theresa Malkiel suggested to the ‘Socialist Party of America’ that they organise the first ever ‘National Women’s Day’ in 1909. A group of 15,000 women marched through the streets of New York, demanding shorter working hours, better pay and voting rights. Following this in 1910, an international conference for working women was held in Copenhagen. It was during this conference that Clara Zetkin, Kate Duncker, Paula Thiede and others proposed an annual commemoration of ‘Women’s Day’, in order to promote equal rights.
In the following year, on March 19, 1911, the first ever ‘International Women’s Day’ was organised by over a million people from countries like Austria, Denmark, Germany, and Switzerland. Much later, in 1975, the United Nations finally acknowledged ‘International Women’s Day’ on a global scale and its celebration.
International Women’s Day has become more than just a commemorative event over the years. It highlights the stories and extraordinary achievements of women that have on many occasions been erased. Each year, in celebration of this day, we look back to our mentors through history and work towards furthering the goal that they had set. Conferences, rallies, debates and discussions are organised and women from around the world participate in order to share their stories and make their voices heard.
In 1908, the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU), in the United Kingdom, came up with three colours that would go on to symbolise ‘International Women’s Day’. Purple, green and white were picked for representation, with each colour having its own specific significance. The colour purple signifies justice and dignity, green symbolises hope and white represents purity.
Each year, International Women’s Day is celebrated with a particular theme in mind, in accordance with which the following year’s events are organised. This year the theme for the campaign is ‘Choose to Challenge’. The theme seeks to keep all global citizens alert about the challenges that women still face and how to combat them. It seeks to encourage women to continually challenge themselves in order to create gender parity. The hashtags for the occasion are - #ChooseToChallenge and #IWD2021.
International Women’s Day is not organised by any particular organisation, country or group. It is, in essence, a global movement that belongs to women everywhere. On this day, we celebrate and uplift each other, especially through providing a voice for those women whose struggle for equality persists. We have come exceedingly far with the #metoo movement and the education of women around the world, but the fight is not finished yet. Let us not forget – we strive for a day when women’s history and achievements are considered ‘world’ history and achievements.