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International Women’s Day 2023

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Authored by Nishah Malik
Published on 8th March, 2023 3 min read

International Women’s Day 2023

Poster for International Women's Day

Today (08/03/2023) marks International Women’s Day, an annual global holiday that commemorates cultural, political, social and economic achievements of women. It has become a focal point in the women’s rights movement, and is used to spotlight issues facing women, such as reproductive rights, abuse and violence, and gender inequality.

The predecessor of International Women’s Day was National Women’s Day, which was held in New York on 28th February 1909. National Women’s Day, which was organised by labor activist Theresa Malkiel and the Socialist Party of America, is said to be in honour of the 1908 strikes of women workers in New York. In 1910 a German campaigner and socialist Clara Zetkin decided that an annual “Women’s Day” should be established. At the International Conference of Working Women in Copenhagen Zetkinn proposed the idea that in every country there should be a day that promoted equal rights and advocated universal suffrage annually. 

Following this idea, International Women's Day was honored for the first time in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland on 19th March 1911. More than a million women attended rallies campaigning for women’s right to vote, the right to hold public office and protesting against employment sex discrimination. By the end of the decade, the 8th March was settled on as International Women’s Day. This date was chosen to commemorate the important role Russian women workers played in actions that led to the Russian Revolution of 1917. However, despite the past observances of the day it was not until 1977 that the United Nations began officially celebrating 8th March as International Woman’s Day globally. International Women's Day is now commemorated globally in a variety of ways.

“If you truly believe in forging an equal and inclusive world, then you will truly believe in the need for the world to better understand the difference between equity and equality.”

Every year International Women’s Day has a theme, in 2022 the theme was “#BreakTheBias”, however this year the theme is “#EmbraceEquity”. This theme aims to drive international understanding of why just “equal opportunities aren't enough” and increase awareness of the difference between 'equity' and 'equality'. The International Women’s Day website explains how everyone needs to understand equity in order to have true gender inclusion.  

“Imagine a gender equal world. A world free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination. A world that's diverse, equitable, and inclusive. A world where difference is valued and celebrated. Together we can forge women's equality.”

International Women’s Day provides a global platform for celebrating all women and their achievements to date. While it is a day to recognise the important social, economic, political, historical and cultural contributions of women, it is also a day to recognise that gender inequality still exists in the world. It provides an opportunity to improve our collective awareness of the ongoing bias’ and what can be done to change this for the future. 

Authored by Nishah Malik

Nishah Malik

Nishah Malik is Collections Editor at British Online Archives. Nishah gained a Masters in History from the University of Derby in 2020. Her research interests centre around South Asian culture and heritage, as well as the history and experiences of the South Asian diaspora. She also has a keen interest in women's history.

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Notable Days


The British Online Archives Notable Days diary is a platform intended to mark key dates and events throughout the year. The posts draw attention to historical events and figures, as well as recurring cultural traditions and international awareness days, in both religious and secular contexts.

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