The 8th March is International Women’s Day. It’s a day to celebrate the achievements of women around the world whether they be social, economic, cultural or political. It is also a way of driving ongoing awareness and calls for gender equality.
International Women’s Day originated in the early 20th century in the USA and Europe. Discussions about gender inequality had led to campaigns for change in 1908 and 1909 in the USA. At the same time, calls in Europe for women’s right to work, vote, to hold public office and for an end to discrimination saw the first official International Women’s Day taking place in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland on the 19th March, 1911. In 1913, Russian women joined by celebrating their own first International Women’s Day at the end of February, and it was 1914 when the date moved to 8th March globally, and has remained so.
In the past few years in Australia, we have seen International Women’s Day grow in significance and celebrated with greater awareness; led by events, discussions, forums and campaigns for equality and to share in the success of women from all walks of life.
Celebrating women’s achievements is something we care greatly about, so we asked a few people at our Sydney head office about what International Women’s Day means to them.
Gloria - Social Media & Influencer Marketing Manager:
“For me, International Women’s Day is an opportunity to celebrate the women in your life, and women as a collective. I believe that one day we won’t need IWD – not because it isn’t important, but because equality will simply be the norm. For now, it’s a reminder for us to collectively #pressforprogress.”
Victoria - Commercial Finance Manager:
“As a child I was always told ‘you can be anything you want to be’. I truly believed I could. Growing up and learning the harsh reality that not everyone is on board solely because I am female has been tough. For me IWD means hope. By championing and celebrating women, remembering the sacrifice and progress made so far we keep the momentum going so that one day in the future everyone really can be anything they want to be regardless of gender.”
Lucia - Global POS Merchandising Manager:
“International Women’s Day – now and then.
Growing up in communist Czechoslovakia in the 80’s, the IWD was the annual party-led celebration of women who helped build the ‘happy society’. Being a child, I never thought much more of it than a day when we would march, women would receive flowers and students would bring small gifts to their female teachers. Unfortunately, the true meaning of the celebration was lost in the political propaganda. After the fall of communism, the holiday was such a strong reminder of the old regime in the Eastern block of Europe, it almost fell into obscurity.
Fast forward 30 or so years, I now feel quite passionate about the IWD as an important reminder of women’s role in society. For me it’s the reminder that women everywhere still need to work on what should be considered normal – like equal pay and having the same opportunities as men.
But IWD also makes me feel sentimental, thinking of my Mum and other great girls in my life and around me. Feeling quite proud of us. ☺”
Eve - Consumer Services Representative:
“For me, International Women’s Day is a celebration of diversity for women all over the world. Most importantly, it is bringing recognition to how far we have come – today, we celebrate that there are women leading countries, women who are saying ‘No, this is not ok’ and the ‘Me Too’ movement is shining light on so many issues that have never been spoken of before in many industries across the world.
We are teaching little girls about empowerment and to speak up against sexual predators. I have friends who are the main breadwinners in the family now, and their husbands stay at home to look after the kids. This is a perfect example that it is ok for women to pursue a fulfilling career without feeling guilty.
There is still a lot more we have to do and say for our international sisters, we must continue to fight for the rights of young girls and women who are exploited and have no voice and no rights.
We must support women who have lost their husbands to war and left to work for the first time in their lives in order to support their children. Let's use our freedom and power to speak on their behalf – this is what we must do as women for each other to let them know that although we are far away, we hear them and we support them.”
Victoria - Finance:
“As a mother, it’s one of the most important days to celebrate women; to set an example to my daughter that nothing is impossible if you put your mind to it. To empower women to be kind, honest and loving with themselves because the biggest change comes from within us. This is a day where we should not just focus on what needs to be improved in gender equality, but to acknowledge what women have achieved so far.
Whether being a scientist involved in cancer research developing vaccines for women, outback community workers educating aboriginal communities, or to my friend who works in women’s shelters and sees everyday struggles caused by domestic violence.
The message to young women all over the world, should be about being strong, naturally confident and to not be afraid to speak out because there is always someone willing to listen.”
We wish you a very Happy International Women’s Day, and as Diane von Furstenberg is quoted as saying, “I’ve never met a woman who is not strong. They don’t exist.”