International Women's Day 2021. (Photo:
International Women’s Day 2021. (Photo:

International Women’s Day (IWD) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity. IWD takes place annually on March 8, 2021 and is marked by activities that do the following:

  • celebrate women’s achievements
  • raise awareness about women’s equality
  • lobby for accelerated gender parity
  • fundraise for female-focused charities

The 2021 theme for IWD is #ChooseToChallenge because, “A challenged world is an alert world. And from challenge comes change,” according to the International Women’s Day website.

People wear, purple, green and white on International Women’s Day because purple signifies justice and dignity. Green symbolizes hope. White represents purity — a controversial concept. The colors originated from the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) in the UK in 1908, where the idea of the day of celebration came about. Like many other women’s rights movements, the WSPU was an international movement.

In 1908, 15,000 women marched through the streets of New York City demanding shorter working hours, better pay and the right to vote. The idea to make the day international came from a woman named Clara Zetkin, a German socialist and women’s rights leader, who suggested the idea in 1910 at an International Conference of Working Women held in Copenhagen. There were 100 women present from 17 different countries, and they all agreed on Zetkin’s suggestion. It was the Socialist Party of America who declared the first National Woman’s Day, a year later. Since 1911, women all over the world have celebrated the day with some countries honoring women on this particular day.

According to the BBC:
In China, many women are given a half-day off from work on IWD, as advised by the State Council, although many employers don’t always pass the half-day on to their female employees.
In the US, the month of March is Women’s History Month. A presidential proclamation is issued every year honoring the achievements of American women. There are scores of free virtual events. One you might want to check out is “1,000 WOMEN LEADERS: A GLOBAL MOVEMENT FOR PEACE & EQUALITY” hosted by the United Nations Women’s Peace and Humanitarian Fund (WPHF). This event marks the launch of a global campaign to support 1,000 women leaders working to build a brighter, more peaceful and resilient future.

“Women civil society leaders in conflict settings are effective and proven agents of change,” said Ghita El Khyari, Head of the United Nations WPHF. “Despite this, only 0.2 percent of billions of dollars in aid for crisis-affected countries is dedicated to women’s organizations. This campaign is amplifying their voices and urgent calls for action.”

Speakers at this free event, taking place today from 1:30-2:30 p.m EST include Whoopi Goldberg, Kristen Bell, Nahla Valji, and Leymah Gbowee, and others as they work to rally support for women who are working on the frontlines to bring equity to women and girls around the world. Registration is free but you must register to participate in the event here.

Check out this International Women’s Day 2021 #ChooseToChallenge video featuring tennis legend Serena Williams and four-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka below:

Read more about International Women’s Day at the official International Women’s Day website.

What are you doing to celebrate International Women’s Day? Let us know @TheBurtonWire.

This post was written and curated by Nsenga K. Burton, Ph.D., founder & editor-in-chief of The Burton Wire, where everyday is a celebration of international women . Follow Nsenga on Instagram or Twitter @Ntellectual

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