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International Women's Day: what is it and why do we need it?

March 8 is International Women's Day, dedicated to celebrating women's achievements and gender equality. But when did it originate and why do we need it?
International Women's Day: what is it and why do we need it?

What is International Women's Day and when did it come into being?

International Women's Day is celebrated on March 8 each year. It originated as National Women's Day in the United States in February 1909. The following year, at the Second International Conference of Working Women in Copenhagen, Denmark, women's rights activist Clara Zetkin called for the establishment of an International Women's Day to give women a greater voice and promote their demands for equal rights.
The proposal was unanimously approved by the women in attendance from 17 countries, including Finland's top three women MPs. International Women's Day was first celebrated in March 1911, and the date was set for March 8, 1913. 
International Women's Day: what is it and why do we need it?

How is this day celebrated around the world?

International Women's Day is celebrated as a national holiday by countries around the world, with women often receiving flowers and gifts. In 2011, to mark the centennial, incumbent U.S. President Barack Obama called for March to be known as Women's History Month.

What is the state of gender equality globally?

The COVID-19 pandemic has stalled progress toward achieving gender equality. According to the World Economic Forum's Global Gender Gap Index, at the current rate it will take 132 years to close the gender gap globally. The index analyzes 146 countries on four key metrics (economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, health and survival, and political empowerment) and tracks progress over time in closing gender gaps.

Of the four gaps analyzed, the one related to political empowerment remains the widest, with only 22 percent of gaps closed.

Why is this important today?

Gender equality is both a basic human right and a solution to some of our greatest global challenges. In a world evolving at a dizzying pace, inequalities (not just gender) are growing ever larger. International Women's Day is a key annual event to remind us of how much has been accomplished to date and how much more needs to be done.
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