On Wednesday 8th February, people around the world will be celebrating International Women's Day 2023 – a day that marks a tremendous achievement for leaders worldwide who are advancing the gender equity movement.
On this day we reflect with excitement and gratitude about the long-term progress that has been made for women in every corner of the globe – from providing education to women in traditionally male-dominated workforces, to creating legislation that protects against gender-based discrimination, and recognizing the vital role that women play in strengthening communities.
International Women's Day 2023 serves as an annual reminder of our shared determination to continue pushing for greater recognition and rights. But what actually is it, why does it exist and what can you do to celebrate it? We’re here to break it down for you.
What is International Women’s Day?
International Women's Day (IWD) is a momentous occasion to recognize and celebrate the achievements of women across the globe. It holds enormous potential for encouraging international unity, inspiring strength, and fostering respect for women of all walks of life.
It provides a platform to discuss the still pervasive issues within our societies concerning gender equality and the inequalities that women around the world continue to face. It showcases that remarkable action can be taken on both big and small scales in order to combat these injustices, including spurring conversations about reproductive rights and ending gender-based violence.
Women have been driving forces throughout the centuries. Let's celebrate them.
When is International Women’s Day 2023?
International Women's Day is a day of celebration and empowerment that takes place every year on March 8th. This year, in 2023, will mark a special milestone for the occasion as it will be the 53rd edition of this inspiring event.
It was first celebrated in 1911 and has since grown into an annual tradition of recognising female achievements as well as calling out inequalities and injustices faced by women everywhere.
Who celebrates International Women’s Day?
International Women's Day is an international holiday, celebrated with verve and enthusiasm in countries around the world. Designed to foster celebration of the achievements of women and propel them forward, this day has been used to rally around causes of gender equality, education equality, economic empowerment and mental health supports for women.
International Women’s Day can mean different things to different people across the globe. For some, it remains a political protest, amplifying voices that call for progressive international change.
For others in the West, it serves to honour and celebrate womanhood in all its dynamic manifestations. From small-scale acts of kindness and self-care among friends to large-scale public parades and demonstrations, International Women's Day is an empowering reminder that we are here, we are powerful, and we demand respect.
What’s this year’s International Women’s Day theme?
Every year, International Women’s Day sets a specific theme. The new campaign theme for 2023 - #EmbraceEquity - encourages everyone, regardless of gender and background, to reflect on the inequalities that still exist and take action to create a more fair and just society. With that, it's time to come together to challenge outdated social structures and recognize the important contributions women have made on international stages.
According to the International Women’s Day website, the theme goes like this:
“For International Women's Day and beyond, let's all fully #EmbraceEquity.
“Equity isn't just a nice-to-have, it's a must-have.
“A focus on gender equity needs to be part of every society's DNA.
“And it's critical to understand the difference between equity and equality.
“IWD 2023's campaign theme aims to get the world talking about why "equal opportunities are no longer enough."
It adds: “The IWD 2023 #EmbraceEquity campaign theme seeks to get the world talking about why "equal opportunities are no longer enough" - and can in fact be exclusionary, rather than inclusive.”
International Women’s Day and the financial gender gap
Although the day is commemorated to explore all issues relating to women, it’s important to understand how gender inequality spills into financial issues.
Not a single country has achieved financial equality between men and women and research shows that the financial gender gap is substantial. And at the current rate, it will take 267 years establish equality between men and women financially.
Let’s start with a few statistics on how bad it’s actually looking in terms of financial equality…
In most western countries, women retire with around 35% less than men. Only 1% of funding goes to women led start-ups. In the United States for example, the average woman spends 44% of her adult life outside of the workforce, as opposed to the average man, who only spends 28% of his time outside the workforce.
This means that in most western countries, women retire with around 35% less than men. This is a problem, we live longer than men on average, meaning we have more years to finance, but ultimately less savings.
In the UK alone, women are great at saving, But despite women’s admirable ability to save, a survey by Capital.com revealed that just 29% of female respondents in the UK have traded or invested in stocks and shares online, compared to 47% of men.
And the picture is similar across the world. According to to recent research by BNY Mellon, only 1 in 10 women globally felt they fully understood investing. While millennial women have the financial means to invest, a 2018 survey conducted by Levo League found that 56% say that fear holds them back from doing so. The gender investing gap is real, and there's a whole stream of statistics which paint the picture for you.
So why is this significant when discussing gender inequality this International Women's Day? Well these investing discrepancies between men and women are important to bear in mind as you venture into the world of investing. Because if they're not addressed, this could lead to further financial disadvantages for women across the world. That’s why financial education and knowledge is power.
Official United Nations themes
Year UN theme
1996 Celebrating the Past, Planning for the Future
1997 Women and the Peace Table
1998 Women and Human Rights
1999 World Free of Violence Against Women
2000 Women Uniting for Peace
2001 Women and Peace: Women Managing Conflicts
2002 Afghan Women Today: Realities and Opportunities
2003 Gender Equality and the Millennium Development Goals
2004 Women and HIV/AIDS
2005 Gender Equality Beyond 2005; Building a More Secure Future
2006 Women in Decision-making
2007 Ending Impunity for Violence Against Women and Girls
2008 Investing in Women and Girls
2009 Women and Men United to End Violence Against Women and Girls
2010 Equal Rights, Equal Opportunities: Progress for All
2011 Equal Access to Education, Training, and Science and Technology: Pathway to Decent Work for Women
2012 Empower Rural Women, End Poverty, and Hunger
2013 A Promise is a Promise: Time for Action to End Violence Against Women
2014 Equality for Women is Progress for All
2015 Empowering Women, Empowering Humanity: Picture it!
2016 Planet 50–50 by 2030: Step It Up for Gender Equality
2017 Women in the Changing World of Work: Planet 50-50 by 2030
2018 Time is Now: Rural and urban activists transforming women's lives
2019 Think Equal, Build Smart, Innovate for Change
2020 "I am Generation Equality: Realizing Women's Rights"
2021 Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world
2022 Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow
What are the historical origins of International Women’s Day?
International Women's Day was first initiated as a campaign in the early 20th century. Initiated by the Socialist Party of America, International Women’s Day was designed with the aim of promoting women's rights, particularly their right to vote, and through its yearly celebration we pay homage to that revolutionary milestone.
A look back through history
The Socialist Party of America had the groundbreaking idea to celebrate international women’s day in 1909 by holding the first National Woman’s Day. This occasion was marked with meaningful, powerful events that took place across the United States and thrived for four years until 1913. This event embodied the importance of valued womanhood throughout nations and opposed practices such as sexism – a narrative that we still fight today.
The international holiday was proposed by German activist Clara Zetkin at the International Socialist Congress and quickly gained support from countless people worldwide. On March 19th that year, rallies held across countries such Austria, Denmark, Germany, and Switzerland drew an astounding one million people in attendance.
International Women's Day has evolved from a single country event staged to protest food shortages and economic hardship, to an international day of celebration for women across the globe. In the ensuing years since its inception in Petrograd in 1917, more countries have adopted the holiday, opting to celebrate on varying dates throughout the year. On the day of the 8th March 1917, sparked by a call for "bread and peace", women of Petrograd Cbanged history when their protests during the strike contributed to the Russian Revolution of 1917, eventually leading to the abdication of Nicholas II on March 15th. From those humble beginnings international Women's Day has grown into a powerful international symbol of female excellence.