History of International Women’s Day

International Women's Day is celebrated annually on March 8 and focuses on gender equality, bias, stereotypes and discrimination against women. Illustration by Kate Hickman.

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International Women’s Day is celebrated annually on March 8. “International Women’s Day aims to focus global attention on the state of women when it comes to gender equality, bias, stereotypes and discrimination,” said Laurel Bowman with VOA news. “Its goal is to make the world more diverse, equitable and inclusive for them.” 

The theme for IWD this year is #BreaktheBias. “A world free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination. A world that is diverse, equitable, and inclusive. A world where difference is valued and celebrated. Together we can forge women’s equality. Collectively we can all #BreakTheBias,” states the IWD website

In 1910, a woman named Clara Zetkin came up with the idea of a holiday to celebrate women around the world. Zetkin was an advocate for women’s rights and a communist activist. “She pitched her idea to an International Conference of Working Women in Copenhagen in 1910. The 100 women there, from 17 countries, agreed to it unanimously,” according to an article by the BBC. 

The decision to celebrate IWD on March 8 was inspired by a story from the Russian Civil War beginning in 1917. Russian women started a strike, demanding “bread and peace” four days into the strike, the provisional government granted women the right to vote.

This year, the Women’s Success Center at UVU will participate in the theme for IWD, #BreaktheBias. “While we are making progress as a university, we have a long way to go globally for women’s equality. The first step in change for the future is awareness of where we are today,” says UVU’s news website. “Utah Valley University recognizes the important role that women play within our leadership, faculty, staff, and student government.”

“In my experience here at UVU, my professors have done a great job of exposing me to some of the most important causes and accomplishments that have been led by women,” said Nick Bankhead, a junior at UVU studying biology. “This has inspired me to be an ally for women. I think it’s important for students to celebrate International Women’s Day and recognize all the great things they do.” 

IWD is a day to recognize and celebrate women’s achievements and advocate for women and women’s equality. “Purple, green and white are the colors of International Women’s Day. Purple signifies justice and dignity. Green symbolizes hope. White represents purity, albeit a controversial concept. The colors originated from the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) in the UK in 1908,” according to the IWD website

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