March 8 marks International Women’s Day and around the world celebrations are taking place to highlight the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. Many different groups are behind the organization of the day, with the United Nations often an important force behind promoting the event.
The day has its roots back in the early 1900s, according to the official International Women’s Day website, when in 1908, “15,000 women marched through New York City demanding shorter hours, better pay and voting rights”.
According to the website, International Women’s Day is an official holiday in: “Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, China (for women only), Cuba, Georgia, Guinea-Bissau, Eritrea, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Madagascar (for women only), Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Nepal (for women only), Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Vietnam and Zambia”.
In some countries, the day is marked with men giving gifts and well-wishes to their sisters, mothers, female friends and colleagues. Women often received flowers or small presents. Around the world, the day is also marked with events to celebrate women, such as festivals, rallies and speeches.
In New York, UN Women’s HeForShe campaign launched an arts week across the city to coincide with International Women’s Day. The event will run until 15 March and will feature theatre, ballet, museum events and more to highlight the work of UN Women. The HeForShe campaign “ invites men and boys to build on the work of the women’s movement as equal partners, crafting and implementing a shared vision of gender equality that will benefit all of humanity”, according to a press release.
In London, the WOW Women of the World festival will be held at the Southbank Centre. The festival celebrates women and girls and “looks at the obstacles that stop them from achieving their potential”, according to the website. Events include talks, debates, live music, comedy, workshops and more.
Air India is marking 8 March with 22 flights featuring all-female crews. On 6 March, the airline announced that a New Delhi to San Francisco flight would feature all female staff, in the cabin and the cockpit, for the 17 hour journey. The journey was celebrated with a sand sculpture tribute from artist Sudarsan Pattnaik.
The Scotsman newspaper in Scotland marked the day with a re-branded edition of its paper, changing the name on its masthead to The Scotswoman. The paper features stories that “celebrates as well as analyses the social, economic, cultural and political achievement of women”, and were decided on by the women on the staff in all sections of the paper. It also features contributions from the leaders of three of Scotland’s political parties: First Minister Nicola Sturgeon; Labour leader Kezia Dugdale; and Conservative leader Ruth Davidson.
In Australia, Melbourne has announced will be the first city in the country to create a street-crossing light with a woman featured on a pedestrian signal. The City of Yarra, a local council area in the city, unveiled its plan in time for International Women’s Day. The silhouette will be of Mary Rogers, the first female councillor to serve local government in Victoria State. She was elected in 1920. The signs will be built later this month and lights will be unveiled in May.
Guinness World Records marked the day by featuring five women who broke records in the past year on its website. The post featured tennis champion Serena Williams, the highest-earning female gamer Kat Gunn, and MMA fighter Ronda Rousey. It also featured two intrepid travellers: Angela Vorobeva from Russia, who became the oldest woman to climb Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania on 29 October; and Tuedon Omatsola Morgan of Nigeria, who set a record for the fastest time for a female to run a half marathon on each continent and the North Pole.