Savannah Brooks ’26
Wednesday, March 8th, was International Women’s Day. The holiday comes in the first part of Women’s History Month, as celebrated in the U.S., the U.K., and Australia. International Women’s Day’s date comes from a “Bread and Peace” demonstration held by female textile workers in the Soviet Union in 1917. The holiday was first commemorated by the Soviet Union but was adopted by the United Nations in 1975. Since then, it has been celebrated around the world. Here are a few examples of how it was marked this year with the theme #EmbraceEquity.
The United States
This year, the U.S. saw several significant events for IWD across the country. The most notable was the White House’s “International Women of Courage Awards,” hosted by First Lady Jill Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken, where the Biden Administration recognized women leaders from around the world, such as Alba Rueda (the Argentinian Special Envoy for Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs) and Yulia “Taira” Paievska (a wartime paramedic in Ukraine who recently was captured and tortured as a Prisoner of War by Russian forces). Nine other women were celebrated as well. The Madeline Albright Honorary Group Award went to the women and girl protestors in Iran.
The United Kingdom
On March 8, the Foreign Secretary of the U.K., James Cleverly, announced the launching of a global “Women and Girls Strategy” that aims to lessen the disproportionate impact that global issues, such as climate change and humanitarian crises, have on gender equality. This plan also aims to combat threats to women’s rights in countries like Iran and Afghanistan and allocate funding for a Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights program. The strategy in total will receive up to £200 million.
In China, women get half of the day off of work every year on IWD. However, a Hong Kong march was canceled due to threats from police that arrests could occur if the march went on. IWD also brought a resurgence of calls to free several women, including Cao Zhixin, Li Siqi, Li Yaunjing, and Zhai Dengrui, all of whom participated in the “blank paper” protests that occurred in the final months of 2022 against China’s restrictive COVID policies.
Mexican women marched in several major cities across the country on IWD to protest femicide and the suppression of women. Femicide (when a woman is killed simply because of her gender) is a large issue in Mexico: around 10 women are killed every day. Mexico City’s march saw about 90,000 women participants.
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Zambia held an IWD event and march in Kabwe. The event included musical and drama performances as well as military drills. Zambian Vice President Mutale Nalumango addressed how women and girls in Africa still have less access to scientific and technological resources than African boys and men, and she pledged that the Zambian government would work to address this inequality in the future.
Despite a protest ban, more than 2,000 women rallied across Pakistan on IWD. They spoke out against gender-based violence and harassment in the country and were met by counter-protesters who claimed that the protesters were “Westernized” and that they already had the rights they needed through Islam.
On IWD in Brazil, President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva announced several plans focused on the advancement of women including plans to fund domestic shelters for women and women-created science projects. The Lula administration has already rolled back several initiatives by the previous administration that made being a woman in Brazil more dangerous, such as a policy that made it easier to own and carry firearms.