About International Women’s Day
When is International Women’s Day?
International Women’s Day (IWD) is celebrated around the world on the 8th of March.
What is International Women’s Day?
International Women’s Day is celebrated in many countries around the world. It is a day when all women are recognised for their achievements. International Women’s Day was first born out of labour movements at the turn of the twentieth century in North America and across Europe.
Since those early days, International Women’s Day has grown in prominence and reach, touching women in every corner of the world. The growing international women’s movement has helped make International Women’s Day a central point for action, to build support for women’s rights and their full participation in the economy, politics, community and in everyday life.
History of International Women’s Day
In 1910, Clara Zetkin, the leader of the Women’s Office for the Social Democratic Party in Germany tabled the idea of an International Women’s Day at the second International Conference of Working Women in Copenhagen. The proposal received unanimous support from over one hundred women representing 17 countries.
The very first International Women’s Day was held the following year on March 19th. Meetings and protests were held across Europe, with the largest street demonstration attracting 30,000 women. In 1913, IWD was moved to March 8th and has been held on this day ever since.
International Women’s Day in Australia
Australia’s first International Women’s Day was held in 1928 in Sydney. Organised by the Militant Women’s Movement, women called for equal pay for equal work, an 8 hour working day for shop girls and paid leave. The next year the event spread to Brisbane. In 1931, annual marches were launched in both Sydney and Melbourne and both marches continue to be held today.
Since these early days, International Women’s Day has continued to grow. It is a day to celebrate women’s achievements and both highlight and work to address barriers that continue to perpetuate gender inequality.
International Women’s Day today
International Women’s Day has become a time to reflect on progress, to call for change and to celebrate the courage and determination of the women who changed history, and those who will advance gender equality into the future. International Women’s Day is an occasion to review how far women have come in their struggle for equality, peace and development. It is also an opportunity to unite, network and mobilise for meaningful change.
How does UN Women Australia celebrate International Women’s Day?
Each year, UN Women Australia hosts some of the largest International Women’s Day events around the country – in Brisbane, Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne, and Perth – to celebrate global achievements and discuss actions needed to continue accelerating gender equality.
In previous years we have welcomed over 6,000 attendees nationally, from all levels of government, local, national and international business, school and university students, representatives from the NGO sector and a wide segment of the local community. In 2021 we did things a little differently. We hosted concurrent live events in Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra, Brisbane and Perth and livestreamed them to a digital event hub. Visit our 2021 IWD Events page for more details.
Our International Women’s Day events were developed by a community of passionate individuals coming together to discuss and highlight issues affecting women, and actions needed to accelerate gender equality across the world. Our Brisbane International Women’s Day Breakfast has strong roots in the community; it is one of the longest running International Women’s Day celebrations in Australia with a deeply devoted audience, and was first held in 1990.
The events create an opportunity for inclusion, drawing together people from diverse backgrounds across Australia to empower, inspire, motivate and benefit individuals and communities towards advancing gender equality, here in Australia and globally.
No country in the world has achieved gender equality. Through our events, we aim to put the spotlight on global issues that perpetuate gender inequality and highlight actions we can all take on the path to a gender equal world.