This year is seeing the highest-ever level of global women’s activity on 8 March, as groups across the world celebrate the International Women’s Day centenary.
The first International Women’s Day events were run in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland in 1911 and attended by over one million people.
One hundred years on, International Women’s Day (IWD) has become a global mainstream phenomena celebrated across many countries and is an official holiday in approximately 25 countries including Afghanistan, Russia, Ukraine, Vietnam and Zambia.
8 March sees performer and social activist, Annie Lennox, leading a march across London’s Millennium Bridge for charity.
In Washington D.C. over a thousand people have descended on Capitol Hill demanding a better world for millions of marginalised women and girls around the globe.
A major international businesswomen’s conference is being hosted in Sydney, Australia. Schools and governments around the world are participating in the day.
Trade Unions and charities are out campaigning. Global corporations are hosting conferences and distributing extensive resource packs. The United Nations Secretary-General is delivering a formal message of support and recognition.
The USA has designated the whole month of March as Women's History Month, as officially launched by President Barack Obama on 28 February.
IWD is a global celebration of the economic, political, and social achievements of women past, present, and future. However, activity has not always been on the increase. Australian entrepreneur and women’s campaigner Glenda Stone, who founded the www.internationalwomensday.com website, a global hub of events and information, commented that, “A decade ago International Women’s Day was disappearing. Activity in Europe, where International Women’s Day actually began, was very low."
She explains: "Providing a global online platform helped sustain and accelerate momentum for this important day. Holding only a handful of events ten years ago, the United Kingdom has now become the global leader for International Women’s Day activity, followed sharply by Canada, United States and Australia. 2011 will see thousands of events globally for the first time.”
More recently, social networking websites like Twitter, Facebook and Youtube have also helped fuel IWD activity.
Generally the day has moved away from its socialist Suffragette beginnings to become more mainstream in celebrating women’s achievements.
Women’s rights campaigners, however, continue to remind that vigilance rather than complacency is essential in striving for women’s equality.