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If you didn’t already know, International Women’s Day (IWD) is a day that recognises and upholds the achievements of women around the world, as well as promotes gender equality.
While the day was first celebrated as early as 1911 in Austria, Denmark, Germany, and Switzerland, it became officially recognised by the United Nations in 1975. Today, it’s celebrated all around the world, always on March 8, a day thought to be the first of a four-day strike in 1917 held by women in Russia who wanted peace, bread, and the right to vote.
And while the day’s colours — purple, which signifies justice and dignity, green representing hope, and white symbolising purity — are always the same, its theme changes annually, with this year’s being, ‘Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow’.
So, what does that mean? Well, while the climate crisis and disaster risk reduction are both well-known global challenges, the issue of gender equality within its context is lesser-known. This year’s IWD theme shines a light on it, recognising the women around the world who are leading the charge on climate change adaptation, mitigation, and response — all to help build a more sustainable future.
“[Women] are involved in sustainability initiatives around the world, and their participation and leadership results in more effective climate action,” reads the UN’s official IWD page.
The theme is also relevant to women as women are increasingly being recognised as more vulnerable to climate change impacts than men. “[Women] constitute the majority of the world’s poor and are more dependent on the natural resources which climate change threatens the most,” the site reads.
What Are Some Issues Women Are Currently Facing?
So, what issues are women tackling these days? While the list is endless, a few of the main issues include sexism and gender bias, domestic violence, reproductive rights and , of course, their role or the actions as of a result of their role in the fight against climate change.
“Women have limited access to and control of environmental goods and services; they have negligible participation in decision-making, and are not involved in the distribution of environment management benefits,” reads a UN article titled Women…In The Shadow of Climate Change. “Consequently, women are less able to confront climate change.”
A major report in 2020 also found that climate change was increasing violence against women and girls. Case studies in the report included domestic abuse, human trafficking, sexual assault, and violence against women environmental rights defenders.
What Can You Do to Celebrate IWD?
Now that you know the IWD 2022 theme, what can you do to celebrate the day? While there are so many different ways, a few ideas are to:
Donate to a Women’s Charity
While there are so many charities out there doing incredible work to support women, some to consider donating to include Share the Dignity, which works with those experiencing homelessness, fleeing domestic violence, or doing it tough, UN Women Australia, which supports women on the frontlines and helps protect those most vulnerable from violence, and Plan International Australia, which aims to create a world where all children can live happy and healthy lives, and where girls have equal opportunities.
Learn more about women’s rights, past and present, by talking to all types of women, or doing research online or reading books.
Acknowledge the Special Women in Your Life
You can do this in-person or on social media. The aim is to make them feel seen.
The colour has long represented justice and dignity, but now it’s used to represent women. Today, it’s the official colour of International Women’s Day.
Buy an IWD-Themed Product
Most of their profits go to women’s charities so you’ll not only be showing your support by wearing or using the item, but also by essentially donating.
Nude Lucy is releasing four limited-edition products, including a hoodie and T-shirt with a design incorporating the word ‘woman’ in eight different languages, with 100% of proceeds going to Girl Guides Australia.
Meanwhile, Finnish brand Marimekko has collaborated with three prominent artists from around the globe: Cassi Namoda, Camilla Engström, and Yoyo Nasty to create three one-off art pieces in celebration of International Women’s Week. Each piece of unique art will be auctioned and sewn into a Marimekko A-line dress to custom fit the buyer, creating beautiful wearable art. The artist will each choose a women’s charity for all the profits to be donated to.
Aside from all this, simply being aware that gender inequality still exists in the world today and that there is still so much to be done for women’s rights — that alone is a great place to start.