March 8 marks International Women’s Day and this year's theme is #BreakTheBias; a call to imagine a gender equal world "free of bias, stereotypes and discrimination".

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, Ukraine-born suffragist Clara Lemlich rallied around 15,000 women to march through New York to demand better pay, shorter working hours and voting rights. The following year, the Socialist Party of America announced the first National Women's Day in honor of these workers.

Eventually the event gained traction worldwide, particularly in Russia where on the eve of World War I, Russian women campaigned for their first International Women's Day on February 23. Later it was agreed that the day would be marked annually worldwide on March 8.

How is International Women's Day celebrated worldwide?

According to the website, International Women's Day is an official public 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, friends and colleagues. While the day isn't an official holiday in countries like the United States and the United Kingdom, it's still marked with events to celebrate women such as festivals, rallies, art performances, marches, and speeches.

Woman standing with a megaphone during a women's rights day march
Marches and protests are typically a common way to celebrate International Women's Day © Getty Images

How to get involved in International Women's Day 2022

There are many virtual and in-person events taking place in cities across the world. You can take part in a pre-arranged event or organize one yourself, publishing the event details on the International Women's Day website so other people can join in.

In the meantime, some events to look out for include: International Women's Day of Climate Action: The Wait of the World, a climate change protest taking place in Parliament Square in London on March 8 (from 2 until 6pm, bring props); and Pride in London present: LGBTQ+ reflections for IWD ’22 on March 8, an event that marks the 50th anniversary of London Pride with talks on topics such as healthcare for Trans women and same-sex couples. There's also the Exhibition Fighting On All Fronts: Women At War, an exhibition at the AntikBar gallery in Chelsea, London on March 8 and 9 that showcases the role women played during World War II.

In New York, you can take part in a bike ride for the International Women’s Day Together We Ride 2022 event (from March 5 through March 8). While in San Francisco, you can enjoy the What Do the Women Say? 2022: Making Home event at the Brava Theatre Center on March 8, an arts and culture night that showcases the work of multi-generational Middle Eastern and North African women artists.

In Australia, the UN will be hosting events in Melbourne, Canberra, Sydney, Brisbane, Perth and online on March 4 under the theme Changing Climates: Equality today for a sustainable tomorrow, featuring an interview with renowned conservationist and human rights activist, Dr Jane Goodall, as well as talks from local speakers live in each city. The talk comes just days after a major UN-backed report on global climate change highlights how extreme weather is only going to get worse.

You can also have a virtual conversation, no matter where in the world you are, with Holocaust survivor and author Dr. Irene Butter on March 8. You can learn more about author Margaret Atwood with a virtual documentary screening of Movie Night: Margaret Atwood – A Word after a Word after a Word is Power also on March 8.

More events can be seen on the International Women's Day website.

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This article was first published March 2016 and updated March 2022

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