International Women’s Day 2022

Written by: Gabrielle 

Edited by: Jessica

Visual by: Mischka

Every 8th of March, media channels and people throughout the world turn their attention to International Women’s Day (IWD) to celebrate the achievements and courage of women. This day also brings to people’s attention that gender inequality continues to be a pressing global issue, as gender gaps remain on the socioeconomic, political, educational and health fronts. 

In 2021, a gender gap report by the World Economic Forum (WEF) showed that the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly delayed the closing of gender parity. Closing the gender gap globally will now take 135.6 years instead of the 99.5 years that the WEF projected pre-pandemic. A McKinsey study also found that female job loss rates due to COVID-19 are about 1.8 times higher than male job loss rates globally. Thus, policy changes are necessary to protect fwomen’s socioeconomic and security rights, end human trafficking and child marriage, and provide women with equal opportunity in both educational and employment areas. International Women’s Day unites people’s voices globally in empowering women to both understand and to try to secure these rights. 

In 1909, activist Theresa Malkiel, a Russian immigrant living in New York City, conceptualized National Women’s Day from her experiences of gender bias. Despite having a good education, Malkiel had no other option except to work as a laborer under harsh conditions, where shifts would last 18 hours and women earned half of what men did. In 1910, German socialist Clara Zetkin proposed an annual day to celebrate women globally during the International Conference of Working Women. This proposition was unanimously approved, giving birth to International Women’s Day. Since being officially recognized by the UN in 1975, International Women’s Day has grown exponentially over the decades. The hashtags #InternationalWomensDay and #IWD were mentioned nearly 10.5 million times on Instagram during International Women’s Day in 2022. 

Every year, International Women’s Day selects a theme to amplify the conversation on gender parity awareness, providing a framework for IWD events and activities. Last year, the theme was #ChooseToChallenge, which was a reminder that women are capable of creating change in an unequal society, and challenged them to take action. This year’s campaign theme, #BreakTheBias, encourages women to call out the discrimination and the stereotyping that they encounter. As Greta Thunberg posted on her Instagram, IWD is for “protesting against and raising awareness about the fact that people are still being oppressed or treated differently because of their gender.” 

Certain traditions and belief systems assume set roles for women, and stereotypes about women’s emotions and appearances create bias. Traditional gender roles assign men as the breadwinner while women stay at home to take care of domestic chores and children. A common gender stereotype labels women as weak and too emotional, thereby branding them as poor leaders and decision makers. These viewpoints hinder women’s opportunities for social, professional and educational advancement, adversely affecting their self-esteem and potential. Gender roles also promote women’s dependence on men, which can lead to tolerance of domestic abuse.

To spread awareness of International Women’s Day, people shared posts on social media of them making the IWD pose, an X with their arms, with hashtags of #IWD or #internationalwomensday. Furthermore, some wore purple, a color of justice and dignity that has been closely associated with women’s equality after being used in 1908 at the Women’s Social and Political Union. Events such as community gatherings, fundraisers, and conferences were also mounted. In the Philippines, SM Supermalls hosted a summit dedicated to women entrepreneurs and the next generation of women making a difference in their communities. A partnership with the Girl Scouts of the Philippines was forged to provide pediatric vaccinations in 60 malls. Major organizations took part in the celebration as well. UN Women, which hosted a forum entitled “Gender Equality Today for a Sustainable Tomorrow”. Since 1910, the collective action of individuals and organizations have spread awareness and helped ignite progress on women’s rights. Saudi Arabian women, for example, were granted the ability to vote in local elections in 2015 and allowed to drive in 2017. Most recently in March 2022, after many efforts by activists, a law was signed raising the age of sexual consent from 12 to 16 in the Philippines. Positive changes in the protection of women’s rights and suffrage such as these show that International Women’s Day is making strides in achieving equal rights and opportunities for women.

Everyone can commit and contribute to achieving gender equality by doing what you can to empower women, and to recognize women’s achievements around us. It starts simply by respecting women, especially those in our lives, everyday. While IWD offers us a day to celebrate women, it is also a day to reflect on how we can strengthen efforts so that women, no matter where they live, will no longer experience discrimination, harrassment or oppression. Gender equality is key to a peaceful world. It may seem like a lofty goal, but it is not an impossible one, as long as people of all genders stand together and support continuing campaigns for equal rights.

Works cited:

“History of International Women’s Day.” International Women’s Day, https://www.internationalwomensday.com/Activity/15586/The-history-of-IWD. 

“About International Women’s Day.” International Women’s Day, https://www.internationalwomensday.com/about. 

“Global Gender Gap Report 2021.” World Economic Forum, https://www.weforum.org/reports/global-gender-gap-report-2021. 

Zillman, Claire. “Why You Should Wear Purple on International Women’s Day.” Fortune, Fortune, 8 Mar. 2019, https://fortune.com/2018/03/07/international-womens-day-how-to-celebrate-wear-purple/. 

Brockell, Gillian. “The Forgotten Woman Behind International Women’s Day.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 8 Mar. 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/history/2022/03/08/international-womens-day-theresa-malkiel/.