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International Women’s Day: What to know and how to get involved

The global day of action began in the early 1900s.

International Women's Day is celebrated every year on

International Women's Day is celebrated every year on March 8. Photo Credit: Newsday / Alejandra Villa

On the heels of the #MeToo and Time's Up movements, organizers of International Women's Day hope to build on the attention to issues including sexual harassment, equal pay and political representation.

The global day of action, which began in the early 1900s, takes place every year on March 8 and highlights the fights for women's equality.

Scroll down to learn more about the day and how you can get involved.

Origin of International Women’s Day

New York City has played a vital role in many social movements throughout the nation’s history, and International Women’s Day is no exception.

In 1908, amid a growing movement calling for better working conditions and voting rights, 15,000 women marched through the streets of New York City to demand change.

A year later, on Feb. 28, 1909, the first National Women’s Day was observed. The movement continued to grow and an International Women’s Day was established in 1910 by the International Conference of Working Women, held in Copenhagen, Denmark. The official date was moved to March 8 in 1913 following discussions from key organizers.

While women continued to fight for equality through the intervening decades, it wasn’t until 1975 that the United Nations became involved and annual themes – the first being “Celebrating the past, Planning for the Future” — were established.

International Women’s Day 2018 theme

This year, the theme is #PressforProgress. "With the World Economic Forum's 2017 Global Gender Gap Report findings telling us that gender parity is over 200 years away, there has never been a more important time to keep motivated and #PressforProgress," the International Women's Day website says.

Meanwhile, the theme for the United Nations International Women’s Day, which is organized separately for the same day, is "Time is Now: Rural and urban activists transforming women’s lives."

"International Women’s Day will also draw attention to the rights and activism of rural women, who make up over a quarter of the world population, and are being left behind in every measure of development," it says on the UN Women website.

How to take action

The opportunities for women around the world to strike out in the face of adversity and affect change come in myriad forms. From challenging stereotypes and buying from companies that support women to starting a women-focused scholarship or mentoring a junior female colleague at work, the options are seemingly limitless.

Every year, women organize marches, conferences, awards, exhibitions, fun runs and more.

For events happening in New York City, check here


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