March 8 is International Women’s Day, a day aimed at celebrating and sharing the accomplishments and achievements of women around the globe. Since its start in 1908 in New York, it has since grown to become a recognized holiday in countries all over the world and sheds light on the continuous pursuit for equality.
This year, the theme is “make it happen,” a bold statement for a bold holiday, and at this point it could be argued that action is more important than awareness. It’s certainly arguable, though one need only look in the comment section of most articles about International Women’s Day to understand why awareness is still necessary.
Already in 2015, the #DearMe campaign went viral across YouTube, Twitter, and other social media platforms. This particular project asked women to write messages or record vlogs to their teenage selves with advice on how to make it through the difficult times. From it poured messages of love and inspiration, messages that often helped the creators as much as the readers.
But International Women’s Day is about so much more than inspiration, as immensely important as it may be. The word “international” is key; those of us in western societies may have seen great strides towards equality, but many women in other countries are still far behind. In so many places, women lack the ability to seek justice for crimes committed against them, lack the freedom of choice, make less than their male counterparts, and are looked down upon as inferior. They lack appropriate health care and education, and often risk injury or death by trying to seek it.
Equality for women has had some powerful speakers for its cause year round, like Emma Watson, a constant vocal advocate for feminism and gender equality.
As the official website explains, International Women’s Day is an official holiday in nearly 30 countries worldwide.
“IWD is now 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.”
Today, there have been marches and special events across the world. In Ukraine, rebels held a beauty pageant. Hundreds of women in Manila marched for peace, and also called for accountability for the actions of many high-ranking officials, mentioning the death of transgender woman Jennifer Laude.
But even though International Women’s Day isn’t as big of a deal in the United States as it is in many other countries, that doesn’t mean that it’s no longer relevant. It doesn’t mean that we can throw in the towel because women can vote and work now, nor does it mean that we need to seriously entertain the argument that there needs to be an International Men’s Day too.
Some may question the effectiveness of logos and hashtags and colorful banners, but they all fit in with the message of “make it happen.” International Women’s Day isn’t just about trying to push for equality by changing ideas of those who might oppose it. It’s also about celebrating and inspiring women by helping them see what they’re capable of doing in a world that has had such a hard time accepting them.
No matter where you live, International Women’s Day is something to be celebrated and a positive message for everyone.
[Photo by Dondi Tawatao/Getty Images]