International Women’s Day brings together global governments, women’s organisations, businesses and charities. With gender equality still causing problems in today’s culture, as the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report revealed that it will take 217 years to close the gap, it is more important than ever to strive for change.
The much-anticipated hashtag, #PressforProgress, argues that there is a strong call-to-action to press forward and progress gender parity. The day aims to motivate and unite colleagues and communities to think, act and be gender inclusive. Broadcast and Digital Journalism student, Amanda Zheng said, “International Women’s Day should commemorate the movement for women’s rights. But in China it exists in another form and departs from its original meaning. Gender inequality still has a long way to go.” This day is socially and historically significant because it observes the initial observance of a Woman’s Day in New York on February 28, 1909, organised by the Socialist Party of America.
Inspired by the demonstration in New York a year later, at the International Women’s Conference in Copenhagen, Socialist representatives proposed for there to be a day marked in honour of women worldwide. Delegates agreed that an International day should be formed as part of a strategy to promote equal rights for women and women’s suffrage. It was celebrated for the first time in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland on March 19, 1911.
In 1913, two years later, it was proposed that the date be moved to March 8. It has been celebrated on this day ever since. Striving to achieve gender equality, this day recognises that the gender pay gap still exists, where women earn up to 14 percent less than men. In terms of women fending off men’s sexual advances, last year saw the rise of the #MeToo movement, where women from all over the world came forward to share their story of sexual harassment.
The hashtag trended worldwide after a call to action from actress Alyssa Milano, in the wake of sexual assault allegations against Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein spanning decades. Posting on Twitter, Alyssa called for those affected to post “Me Too” giving people a sense of the magnitude of the problem. More than two dozen women, amongst them actresses Angelina Jolie and Gwyneth Paltrow, have made accusations against Weinstein including rape and sexual assault. The hashtag in the movement marks the significance of women who have been sexually harassed by someone.
Men have also been using the hashtag to show support to women and reveal their own incidents of abuse too. Last week thousands of women gathered as part of a nationwide protest, “Day Without a Woman”, at the International Women’s Day in Central Park on March 8 in New York City.