As half of the world’s population, women represent half of the world’s potential. For over 100 years, March 8 has been a day to celebrate women. International Women’s Day acknowledges the social, economic, cultural, and political accomplishments of countless women (and female-identifying people) and is a call to accelerate gender parity.
Women have historically made some phenomenal contributions to our world. Marie Curie’s research on radioactivity led her to become the first person to ever win a Nobel Prize in two different areas (chemistry and physics). Rosa Parks became famous when she refused to give up her bus seat for a white passenger, which led to nationwide efforts to end segregation. Mother Teresa dedicated her life to helping the poor, hungry, and parentless.
There is no shortage of amazing women today who also deserve celebrating. Malala Yousafzai’s diary about living as a young girl under the Taliban continues to help in the fight for girls’ rights to an education in countries like Pakistan, Nigeria, and the Syria region. Serena Williams is one of the world’s most famous athletes and has her own fund to promote equity for all people. Oprah Winfrey is more than a TV personality: She has done a huge amount of charity work, including donating millions of dollars to charitable causes and creating two of her own foundations. One is her Oprah Winfrey Foundation, which provides grants to other not-for-profit organizations, and the other is her Leadership Academy Foundation, which provides funding for girls in South Africa.
In today’s day and age, do we still need to acknowledge, celebrate, even fight for women’s equality? Here are some facts to judge for yourself:
- As recently as the third quarter of 2019, US women earned 82.3 cents for every dollar earned by men (this also applies to recent college graduates).
- Globally, women own just 1 percent of the world’s wealth.
- More than one in three women experience sexual violence involving physical contact in their lifetime.
- Historically, there have been very few women who ran as US presidential or vice-presidential candidates—none have gone on to be elected to the position.
- As of February 2019, just 24.3 percent of all national parliamentarians around the world were women and just 10 countries have gender-parity cabinets.
As you can see, there are still plenty of reasons to actively promote gender equality—so what can you do? For starters, get involved in International Women’s Day by sharing the #EachForEqual and #IWD2020 hashtags on social media along with your own reason to celebrate women. This year’s theme, “Each for equal,” reminds us that many women worldwide still struggle with equality, and calls on each and every one of us to advocate for women’s rights in our daily activities. You can also participate in (or organize your own) local International Women’s Day event.
Beyond the annual awareness day, every day can be a day to celebrate and support women: Take on more of the household responsibilities, believe women who have experienced sexual discrimination or violence, and support women who are leading the way toward equal opportunity, pay, and representation in powerful positions. The women in (and outside) your life will thank you.
Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2019, October 16). Usual weekly earnings summary. Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/news.release/wkyeng.nr0.htm
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2019, March 12). Preventing sexual violence. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/sexualviolence/fastfact.html
Corbett, C., & Hill, C. (2012). Graduating to a pay gap. American Association of University Women. Retrieved from https://www.aauw.org/files/2013/02/graduating-to-a-pay-gap-the-earnings-of-women-and-men-one-year-after-college-graduation.pdf
Facts and figures: Leadership and political participation. (2019, June). Retrieved from https://www.unwomen.org/en/what-we-do/leadership-and-political-participation/facts-and-figures
Gender parity cabinets are on the rise. (2019, October 26). Retrieved from https://www.iknowpolitics.org/en/learn/knowledge-resources/data-and-statistics/gender-parity-cabinets-are-rise
Global issues: Gender equality and women’s empowerment. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.peacecorps.gov/educators/resources/global-issues-gender-equality-and-womens-empowerment/
In brief: Women’s leadership and political participation. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.unwomen.org/~/media/headquarters/attachments/sections/library/publications/2013/12/un%20womenlgthembriefuswebrev2%20pdf.ashx
International Women’s Day 2020 theme. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.internationalwomensday.com/2020Theme
Women presidential and vice-presidential candidates: A selected list. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://cawp.rutgers.edu/levels_of_office/women-presidential-and-vice-presidential-candidates-selected-list