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International Women's Day

International Women’s Day is annually held on March 8 to celebrate women’s achievements throughout history and across nations.

International Women's Day celebrates women's achievements worldwide.

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Women's Achievements and Challenges

The purpose of International Women’s Day (IWD) is to uphold women's achievements, recognize challenges, and focus greater attention on women's rights and gender equality. It is celebrated worldwide to spotlight women, their issues and achievements, and has a different theme each year.

“The world has made unprecedented advances, but no country has achieved gender equality.” writes the United Nations, and has set a goal for gender equality by 2030. The UN sees International Women’s Day as “a time to reflect on progress made, to call for change and to celebrate acts of courage and determination by ordinary women, who have played an extraordinary role in the history of their countries and communities.”

Events and Marches

According to the United Nations, women earn 23% less than men globally and occupy only 24% of parliamentary seats worldwide. On International Women’s Day, March 8, various events are held worldwide. Like seminars, marches, and concerts, the events celebrate women and highlight the inequalities that women experience worldwide. The focus at the events picks up on various themes such as innovation, the portrayal of women in the media, or the importance of education and career opportunities.

Women of all backgrounds: Political, community, and business leaders, as well as leading educators, inventors, entrepreneurs, and television personalities, are usually invited to speak on the day.

Learning About Women

Students in schools and other educational settings participate in special lessons, debates, or presentations about the importance of women in society, their influence, and issues that affect them. In some countries, school children bring gifts to their female teachers and women receive small presents from friends or family members. Many workplaces make a special mention about International Women’s Day through internal newsletters or notices or by handing out promotional material focusing on the day.

Public Holiday in Many Countries

International Women's Day is a public holiday in Angola, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, China (half-day for women), Eritrea, Germany (some areas), Georgia, Guinea-Bissau, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Kiribati, Laos (women only), Madagasgar (women only), Moldova, Mongolia, Nauru, North Korea, Russia, Sierra Leone, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Uganda, Uzbekistan, and Zambia.

Many businesses, government offices, educational institutions are closed in the countries mentioned above on this day, where it is sometimes called Women’s Day. International Women’s Day is a national observance in many other countries. Some cities may host various wide-scale events such as street marches, which may temporarily affect parking and traffic conditions.

The History of International Women's Day

The first International Women’s Day occurred on March 19 in 1911. The inaugural event, which included rallies and organized meetings, was a big success in Austria, Denmark, Germany, and Switzerland. The March 19 date was chosen because it commemorated the day that the Prussian king promised to introduce women's votes in 1848. The promise gave hope for equality, but it was a promise that he failed to keep.

Today, we observe it on March 8. This date was chosen by the United Nations as International Women’s Day to commemorate a women's demonstration in Petrograd (Saint Petersburg), Russia, in 1917 that marked the turning point in the Russian revolution. In 1917, Russia still followed the Julian calendar, so the demonstration took place on February 23, which in the western Gregorian calendar is March 8.

The UN drew global attention to women's concerns in 1975 by calling for an International Women's Year. It also convened the first conference on women in Mexico City that year. The UN General Assembly then invited member states to proclaim March 8 as the UN Day for Women's Rights and International Peace in 1977. The day aimed to help nations worldwide eliminate discrimination against women. It also focused on helping women gain full and equal participation in global development. International Men’s Day is celebrated on November 19 each year.

International Women's Day Observances

YearWeekdayDateNameHoliday Type
2016TueMar 8International Women's DayUnited Nations observance
2017WedMar 8International Women's DayUnited Nations observance
2018ThuMar 8International Women's DayUnited Nations observance
2019FriMar 8International Women's DayUnited Nations observance
2020SunMar 8International Women's DayUnited Nations observance
2021MonMar 8International Women's DayUnited Nations observance
2022TueMar 8International Women's DayUnited Nations observance
2023WedMar 8International Women's DayUnited Nations observance
2024FriMar 8International Women's DayUnited Nations observance
2025SatMar 8International Women's DayUnited Nations observance
2026SunMar 8International Women's DayUnited Nations observance

While we diligently research and update our holiday dates, some of the information in the table above may be preliminary. If you find an error, please let us know.