Why celebrate International Women's Day?

What is International Women's Day and why should we celebrate it?

by Psychologies

Today marks International Women’s Day, a day that has been celebrated for more than 100 years, and since the first one in 1911, women have gained the same voting rights as men in the UK and around the world. Women have earned more rights in general; in marriage, work and society. More and more organisations are being recognised for their commitment to gender equality and women have become more successful in their careers and education.

So why have an International Women’s Day? To celebrate the achievement and the success of women? Yes! But also, to highlight the work that still needs to be done when it comes to gender equality, at home and internationally. The global statistics showing the extent of women’s struggles today are overwhelming. Here are just a few that we feel give a general picture of the world right now for women:

  • Globally, 10 million more girls are out of school than boys and women account for nearly two thirds of the world’s 780 million people who cannot read. (1)
  • One in three women worldwide experience sexual or physical violence in their lifetime. (2)
  • In Australia, Canada, Israel, South Africa and the US, intimate partner violence accounts for between 40 and 70 per cent of female murder victims. (6)
  • Approximately 140 million girls and women in the world have suffered female genital mutilation/cutting. (6)
  • Over 40 years after the Equal Pay Act came into force in the UK, women still face a 15 per cent gender pay gap in their earnings compared to men’s and experience one of the highest pay gaps in the EU, meaning effectively, from 7 November each year women stop earning and work for free until the end of the year, while men continue to earn. (3)
  • Worldwide women held 20 per cent of the seats across all houses of parliament (upper and lower) by the end of 2012.(4) The UK is ranked joint 58th in the world with regards to the number of women in national parliaments, and at the current rate of progress we would have to wait more than 150 years before seeing an equal number of women and men elected to English local councils. (5)

These statistics are just a general overview of the issues women still face today globally. It’s a great day to promote positive change for women all over the world. Psychologies is all for women supporting women, and we will be making our own steps, hopefully with the help of you, our tribe, over the next year. Watch this space.

Events celebrating IWD:

International Women’s Day serves as a celebration for women, for those who inspire us, and who we admire (see the Psychologies team’s list here). The Aspire Foundation is running their ‘Remembering Ordinary, Extraordinary Women’ campaign. They’ve been collecting your stories about the women who have inspired you, you can read them here. In the celebrity world, Keira Knightley, Benedict Cumberbatch and others have written to David Cameron about women’s rights in Afghanistan. And The Cambridge Science Festival is celebrating the women who have made significant contributions to science by holding a series of lectures including ‘What’s wrong with pink?’ discussing gender roles in society from childhood.

If you want to know how to get involved with International Women’s Day and see what events are happening to celebrate it and raise awareness for women around the world, visit www.internationalwomensday.com.


(2) www.who.int

(3) www.fawcettsociety.org.uk

(4) www.parliament.uk

(5) www.ukfeminista.org.uk

(6) www.unwomen.org