By Josie Kao
(RockedBuzz via Reuters) – As International Women’s Day (IWD) approaches on Wednesday, here’s a look at what the global event stands for, this year’s theme and the issues activists are focusing on.
On Tuesday, Spain introduced a bill to increase the share of women in politics and business, including a proposal that women hold at least 40% of seats on the boards of large companies.
WHAT IS INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY?
IWD is an annual event to celebrate women’s achievements and push for the advancement of rights. It has roots in the US socialist and labor movements of the early 20th century, particularly when women fought for better working conditions and the right to vote.
The first recorded celebration was in 1911 in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland when over a million people rallied to support women’s rights.
Since then, the event has grown not only in size but also in scope. The focus has extended to issues ranging from violence against women to equality in the workplace.
While no single group has ownership of the event, the United Nations is often at the forefront of celebrations after officially recognizing the IWD in 1977. However, celebrations around the world are generally decentralized, although some countries do recognize the IWD as a public holiday, including China, Russia and Uganda.
WHAT IS THE THEME OF THIS YEAR’S INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY?
The theme of the United Nations this year is “DigitALL: Innovation and Technology for Gender Equality”. The argument highlights how technology is critical to advancing rights, but a growing digital gender divide is impacting everything from women’s job opportunities to online safety.
According to the United Nations, 259 million fewer women have access to the internet than men, and women are vastly underrepresented in careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
“Bringing women into technology results in more creative solutions and has greater potential for innovations that meet women’s needs and advance gender equality,” the UN website states. “Their lack of inclusion, by contrast, comes with huge costs.”
Previous UN topics have included climate change, rural women and HIV/AIDS.
WHY IS INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY IMPORTANT?
While this year’s United Nations theme highlights how the fight for gender equality has evolved into the 21st century, celebrations around the world also focus on longstanding issues, including poverty and violence .
A 2021 World Health Organization report found that nearly one in three women worldwide experience physical or sexual violence in their lifetime, a problem that ties into women’s economic opportunities, access to sex education and reproductive rights.
In recent years, there has also been a push to make IWD more inclusive of racialized women as well as transgender, non-binary, and gender nonconforming people, since the initial movement was largely centered around white cisgender women. fighting for the right to vote.
While IWD is an opportunity to raise awareness about rights gaps, the organizers also use the day to celebrate the progress and achievements of individual women.
(Reporting by Josie Kao in Toronto; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)