From empowerment seminars to street strikes, pop-up art shows to business master classes, female voices will echo across the globe Friday with a resounding message: Women want balance.
#BalanceforBetter is the theme for this year’s International Women’s Day, which is observed each year on March 8. The 2019 initiative is aimed at gender equality, a greater awareness of discrimination and a celebration of women’s achievements, according to the International Women’s Day website. That includes reducing the global pay gap between men and women and making sure all are equal – and balanced – in activist movements, boardrooms and beyond.
“It’s a time to reflect on the progress for women and call for ways to address the unfinished business in working toward equality,” said Rachel Vogelstein, a board member at the National Women’s History Museum.
Here is what you need to know about International Women’s Day:
What is International Women’s Day?
The day celebrates “the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women,” according to its website.
It is not hosted by any country or specific movement, so organizers encourage women everywhere to host events that are “all about unity, celebration, reflection, advocacy and action – whatever that looks like globally at a local level.”
Where are celebrations taking place?
From Uganda to the United Kingdom to the U.S., you can search for events in your city and country on the International Women’s Day website. Celebrations don’t have to be published on the website to mark International Women’s Day, though, so check your local events to see events in your area.
What kind of events celebrate International Women’s Day?
Overseas, there will be commemorations Friday and through the weekend. At Amsterdam’s “Youth Tech Fest,” girls 12 to 18 will learn how to code, develop apps and more. In Ireland, mass walkouts were planned for 3 p.m. local time Friday to demand action on various gender-based issues, including violence and harassment against women, the gender pay gap, labor conditions and reproductive rights, according to TheJournal.ie.
In the United States, there will be International Women’s Day events in more than 35 cities. Atlanta is home to an International Women’s Day Tea Party for small-business owners. Minneapolis will hold a FeMNist Day with a breakfast event, workshops and a night market for female-owned businesses.
Los Angeles organizers are hosting a women’s strike with a march, rally and dance party at the city’s Federal Building that targets wars on women, children, migrants and the Earth. A celebration at Washington Square Park in New York offers women flowers with inspirational messages.
Do I have to go to an event to celebrate International Women’s Day?
You don’t have to attend an event to mark International Women’s Day. You can also participate by supporting female-owned businesses or by making donations to charity.
At Campaign for Female Education, a non-profit that supports education for girls worldwide, organizers are encouraging everyone to “pause and consider the challenges many women face around the world” and how you can make a difference, according to to Brooke Hutchinson, executive director of CAMFED USA.
Hannah Serimian, founder of Boxy Girl, a beauty organizer company, also called for women to create a dialogue among friends, family and coworkers to support women and their passions and ideas.
“Women are great at organizing in their own communities and asking tough questions,” Serimian said. “We’re living in an amazing time where we can recognize the talents of so many women.”
What is the history of International Women’s Day?
International Women’s Day was first observed in 1909 when an estimated 15,000 women marched in New York City demanding fair wages, labor standards and guaranteed voting rights, according to the International Women’s Day website.
The day was pioneered by socialist and voting rights activists, and by 1911, more than 1 million people celebrated in the United States, the United Kingdom, Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland.
In 1975, the United Nations officially declared the year International Women’s Year and made March 8 International Women’s Day annually.