International Women’s Day is an occasion to celebrate the achievements of women around the world. It is marked to provide an opportunity for us all to reflect on past struggles and to come together to plan and act to make the world a more equal place.
The first International Women’s Day was observed in 1911, with women and men marching in cities across Europe. In 1975, International Women’s Year, the United Nations set the date for 8 March, and this remains the day for its observance in Australia.
This year marks 40 years since International Women’s Year, and 20 years since the fourth World Conference on Women adopted the Beijing Platform for Action. These anniversaries of two significant moments in the progression of women’s rights globally form an important part of the theme for 2015.
As in other countries, in Australia there is much to celebrate, just as there remains significant work to be done. For example:
The new Queensland State Government has women in the majority of ministerial positions, including a woman as Premier and Deputy Premier.
Rosie Batty being named Australian of the Year means the issue of domestic violence, which affects the lives of far too many women, is gaining more public attention than ever before.
Meanwhile, the Australian Bureau of Statistics releases data showing that the gender pay gap is increasing and is the biggest it has been in 20 years.
State and Federal Governments are cutting funding to services which have provided important support and protection for women for many years.
So take some time to celebrate the milestones and come together to take action to ensure that we can continue to make progress toward the goal of gender equality.
This year the Sydney march is being held next weekend, on 14 March, meeting at 11 am at Sydney Town Hall. People will be marching in solidarity with women around the world experiencing inequality and injustice as a result of gender. People can also join the conversation online or join events around Australia and the world.