The story of women’s struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organization but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights.-Gloria Steinem

Celebrated on March 8, International Women’s Day (IWD) is a holiday which commemorates the achievements of women all over the world. The day is not only a time to reflect on progress, but to also celebrate acts of perseverance by ordinary women who have played significant roles in their countries and communities. In addition to applauding past achievements, the holiday is also a call to action for accelerating gender equality.

The United States first observed National Women’s Day on February 28, 1909. Originally emerging from the labor movements at the turn of the twentieth century in North America, the holiday has since assumed a global dimension, and is celebrated by a variety of countries including Afghanistan, Belarus, and Russia. The Socialist Party of America declared the holiday in honor of the 1908 Garment Worker’s Strike in New York, when women garment workers protested their unjust and harsh working conditions. In 1910, the Socialist International, a worldwide organization of social democratic, socialist, and labor parties, met in Copenhagen and released the Copenhagen Initiative, which established an International Women’s Day as a day to build support for achieving universal suffrage. A year later, the holiday was celebrated for the first time in Austria, Germany, and Switzerland, where more than one million men and women attended rallies. In 1975, March 8 was designated as the official date of the holiday.

Interestingly, although women involved in labor movements in the United States created the holiday, IWD receives much more attention in other countries. In many places, such as Russia and China, the day is almost like a state-sanctioned combination of Valentines Day and Mother’s Day in which flowers and gifts are given to important women in one’s life.

Each year, NGOs, advocacy groups, the United Nations, and other feminist activist groups, pick a theme for International Women’s Day. This year, the UN chose the theme “Women in the Changing World of the Work: Planet 50-50 by 2030,” which pushes for the acceleration of the 2030 Agenda. Some key goals of the 2030 Agenda include ensuring that all girls and boys have access to quality early childhood development care and pre-primary education, and to end all forms of discrimination against women everywhere. The official organization for International Women’s Day has made their campaign theme #BeBoldforChange, calling on the masses to help create a better and more inclusive world.

The World Economic Forum predicts that the gender wage gap will not close entirely until 2186, a date that no women should accept. IWD can be a catalyst and vehicle for greater change, and every ounce of participation counts. The official IWD website offers a variety of ways to get involved, such as hosting an event, promoting IWD on social media using #BeBoldforChange, fundraising, and more. IWD is an important way to not only recognize the achievements of women, but to also remember there is still progress left to be made. Grieboski Global Strategies supports the initiatives of people and organizations everywhere to make the mission of empowering and supporting fair treatment of women a reality.