As Nigerian women joined their counterparts all over the world to celebrate International Women’s Day today, Adetutu Audu writes about interesting facts about the Day.
International Women’s Day is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The Day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity. Significant activity is witnessed worldwide as groups come together to celebrate women’s achievements or rally for women’s equality.
The Day has been celebrated for well over a century with the first gathering held in 1911 by the early 20th Century Marxist from Germany, Clara Zetkin.
Zetkin was born in 1857 in Germany’s Wiederau. She trained as a teacher, and was associated with the Social Democratic Party (SPD) — one of the two major political parties in the country. She was a part of both the labour movement and the women’s movement.
In the 1880s, when anti-socialist laws were enforced by German leader Otto von Bismarck, Zetkin went into a self-imposed exile in Switzerland and France. During this time, she wrote and distributed proscribed literature, and met leading socialists of the time. Zetkin also played a significant role in the formation of the Socialist International.
Upon her return to Germany, she became the editor of Die Gleichheit (‘Equality’) — SPD’s newspaper for women — from 1892 to 1917. In the SPD, Zetkin was closely associated with the far-left thinker and revolutionary Rosa Luxemburg. In 1910 — three years after she became a co-founder of the International Socialist Women’s Congress — Zetkin proposed at a conference that Women’s Day be celebrated in every country on February 28.
The conference comprised 100 women from 17 countries, with unions, socialist parties, working women’s clubs and female legislators unanimously approving the suggestion. Women’s Day was observed for the first time in 1911.
Two years later, in 1913, the date was changed to March 8, and it continues to be celebrated as such every year.
The International Women’s Day (IWD) is one of the most important days of the year to: celebrate women’s achievements; raise awareness about women’s equality; lobby for accelerated gender parity; and fundraise for female-focused charities
Colours that symbolises the Day
Purple, green and white are the colors of International Women’s Day. Purple signifies justice and dignity. Green symbolizes hope. White represents purity. The colors originated from the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) in the UK in 1908.
Gender Equality by 2030
According to UN, International Women’s Day is 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.
The world has made unprecedented advances, but no country has achieved gender equality.
Fifty years ago, we landed on the moon; in the last decade, we discovered new human ancestors and photographed a black hole for the first time.
In the meantime, legal restrictions have kept 2.7 billion women from accessing the same choice of jobs as men. Less than 25 per cent of parliamentarians were women, as of 2019. One in three women experience gender-based violence, still.
International Women’s Day 2021 theme
The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is #ChooseToChallenge. It indicates that a “challenged world is an alert world, and from challenge comes change”
Women can all choose to challenge everything that has been holding them back, and become better allies.