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

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

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

International Women's Day is celebrated every year on March 8.
International Women’s Day is celebrated every year on March 8. Photo Credit: Josephine Asaro-Wendell

Every day, millions of women take steps to make a better world for themselves and others, and one day a year, those efforts are not only celebrated but shared by millions.

International Women’s Day, which began in the early 1900s, takes place every March 8 and highlights the fight 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.

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 2019 theme

This year, the theme is #BalanceforBetter. “From grassroots activism to worldwide action, we are entering an exciting period of history where the world expects balance. We notice its absence and celebrate its presence. Balance drives a better working world. Let’s all help create a #BalanceforBetter,” 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 “Think equal, build smart, innovate for change.”

The theme “focuses on innovative ways in which we can advance gender equality and the empowerment of women, particularly in the areas of social protection systems, access to public services and sustainable infrastructure,” it says on the U.N. 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 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

Lauren Cook and Nicole Brown