International Women’s Day 2023

Today is International Women’s Day, a day which brings to the fore the women’s rights movement, bringing attention to issues such as gender equality, reproductive rights, and violence and abuse against women.

Spurred on by the universal female suffrage movement that had begun in New Zealand, IWD originated from labour movements in North America and Europe during the early 20th century. The earliest version was purportedly a Women’s Day organised by the Socialist Party of America in New York City on February 28, 1909. This inspired German delegates at the 1910 International Socialist Women’s Conference to propose a special Women’s Day be organised annually, albeit with no set date; the following year saw the first demonstrations and commemorations of International Women’s Day across Europe. After women gained suffrage in Soviet Russia in 1917 which was the beginning of the February Revolution, International Women’s Day was made a national holiday on March 8; it was subsequently celebrated on that date by the socialist movement and communist countries. The holiday was associated with far-left movements and governments until its adoption by the global feminist movement in the late 1960s. International Women’s Day became a mainstream global holiday following its adoption by the United Nations in 1977. The UN observes the holiday in connection with a particular issue, campaign, or theme in women’s rights.

International Women’s Day is a day when women can imagine a gender-equal world, a world free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination. A world that’s diverse, equitable, and inclusive an a world where difference is valued and celebrated. Together and collectively, women’s equality can be forged and equity embraced.

And Embrace Equity is the theme for this year’s IWD. Equity isn’t just a nice-to-have, it’s a must-have. A focus on gender equity needs to be part of every society’s DNA and it is critical to understand the difference between equity and equality. The words equity and equality are often used interchangeably. Etymologically, the root word they share is aequus, meaning even, fair or equal – which led to equity being from the Latin aequitas, and equality from aequalitas. Yet, despite these similarities, equity and equality are inherently different concepts, and the IWD 2023 #EmbraceEquity campaign theme seeks to help forge worldwide conversations about this important issue and its impact. 

So, what’s the difference between equity and equality – and why is it important to understand and acknowledge this? Equality means each individual or group of people is given the same resources or opportunities. Equity recognizes that each person has different circumstances, and allocates the exact resources and opportunities needed to reach an equal outcome. Equity can be defined as giving everyone what they need to be successful. In other words, it’s not giving everyone the same thing. If we give everyone the same thing, expecting that will make people equal, it assumes that everyone started in the same place – and this can be vastly inaccurate because everyone isn’t the same.

We can all truly embrace equity. It should not be just something we say or write about. It’s something we need to think about, know, and embrace. It’s what we believe in, unconditionally. Equity means creating an inclusive world. All of us, irrespective of gender can play a part in creating an inclusive world by actively supporting and embracing equity within our sphere of influence. We can and should challenge gender stereotypes, call out discrimination, draw attention to bias, and seek out inclusion. Collective activism is what drives change. From grassroots action to wide-scale momentum, we can all embrace equity. Forging gender equity isn’t limited to women solely fighting the good fight. Allies are incredibly important for the social, economic, cultural, and political advancement of women.

Over at the United Nations, the theme for International Women’s Day is DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality. This theme highlights the need for inclusive and transformative technology and digital education.

The United Nations recognises and celebrates the women and girls who are championing the advancement of transformative technology and digital education. This IWD will explore the impact of the digital gender gap on widening economic and social inequalities and will also spotlight the importance of protecting the rights of women and girls in digital spaces and addressing online and ICT-facilitated gender-based violence. Bringing women and other marginalised groups into technology results in more creative solutions and has greater potential for innovations that meet women’s needs and promote gender equality. Their lack of inclusion, by contrast, comes with massive costs. As per the UN Women’s Gender Snapshot 2022 report, women’s exclusion from the digital world has shaved $1 trillion from the gross domestic product of low-and middle-income countries in the last decade—a loss that will grow to $1.5 trillion by 2025 without action. Reversing this trend will require tackling the problem of online violence, which a study of 51 countries revealed 38 percent of women had personally experienced.

A gender-responsive approach to innovation, technology, and digital education can increase the awareness of women and girls regarding their rights and civic engagement. Advancements in digital technology offer immense opportunities to address development and humanitarian challenges and to achieve the 2030 Agenda’s Sustainable Development Goals. Unfortunately, the opportunities of the digital revolution also present a risk of perpetuating existing patterns of gender inequality. Growing inequalities are becoming increasingly evident in the context of digital skills and access to technologies, with women being left behind as the result of this digital gender divide. The need for inclusive and transformative technology and digital education is therefore crucial for a sustainable future.

Lets us all celebrate women’s achievements today and raise awareness about the discriminations we face. Let’s take action to drive gender parity and embrace equity.

International Women’s Day

Regular readers will know that I am a huge supporter of women’s rights and so International Women’s Day which falls tomorrow is a topic I never fail to write about.

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 everyday life.

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 or IWD, celebrated on March 08 is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating women’s equality. The IWD has occurred for well over a century, with the first IWD gathering in 1911 supported by over a million people. Today, International Women’s Day belongs to all groups collectively everywhere and is not country, group or organization specific.

The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day from the IWD organisation is Break the Bias. Let’s imagine a gender-equal world free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination, a world that is diverse, equitable, and inclusive and a world where difference is valued and celebrated. Let us all forge women’s equality and collectively we can all Break the Bias. Individually, we’re all responsible for our thoughts and actions – all day, every day and we can break the biases in our communities, our workplaces, our schools, colleges and universities and together, we can all break the bias – on International Women’s Day and beyond. Purple, green and white are the colours of International Women’s Day with purple signifying justice and dignity, green symbolising hope and white representing purity, albeit a controversial concept. The colours originated from the Women’s Social and Political Union or WSPU in the UK in 1908.

The United Nations celebrated International Women’s Day with a separate theme. Women and girls face greater vulnerability and exposure to disasters, and conflicts, and yet they remain largely ignored in developing solutions and their capabilities are often under-utilised. As the most impacted, women are also a critical part of the solution. The theme this year is Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world. Women stand at the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis, as health care workers, caregivers, innovators, community organizers and as some of the most exemplary and effective national leaders in combating the pandemic. The crisis has highlighted both the centrality of their contributions and the disproportionate burdens that women carry. This year’s theme celebrates the tremendous efforts made by women and girls around the world in shaping a more equal future and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

International Women’s Day is a time to reflect on progress made, to call for change and to celebrate acts of courage and determination by ordinary women, who have played an extraordinary role in the history of their countries and communities. The world has made unprecedented advances, but no country has achieved gender equality. Fifty years ago, we landed on the moon; in the last decade, we discovered new human ancestors and photographed a black hole for the first time. In the meantime, legal restrictions have kept 2.7 billion women from accessing the same choice of jobs as men. Less than 25 per cent of parliamentarians were women, as of 2019 and even today one in three women experiences gender-based violence.

Because sometimes we need to remember we’re not alone. Happy International Women’s Day to all the lovely women and the men who support and motivate their women!

International Women’s Day

Today is the International Women’s Day. And while I do wonder why we do need one single day to celebrate women, when every day should be a celebration of what women are and can do, in today’s world where millions of girls and women are still downtrodden, perhaps it is for them we should have this one day when they are celebrated, honoured and venerated.

87,000 women are killed every year just because they are women. 111 countries have no repercussions for husbands who rape their wives. 2.7 billion women are legally restricted from having the same choice of jobs as men. 45 countries do not have specific laws against domestic violence and 35% of women globally have experienced sexual or physical violence

The International Women’s Day is a day to join with people around the world and shout the message for equal rights loud and clear and to say with emphasis that women’s rights are human rights! Today is the day to celebrate all women, in all their diversities, to embrace their facets and intersections of faith, race, ethnicity, gender or sexual identity, or disability, to celebrate those who came before us, those who stand beside us now, and those who will come after. Today is the day to celebrate the achievements of women, whether social, political, economic or cultural.

International Women’s Day is a day which celebrates on a global scale the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity. Significant activity is witnessed worldwide as groups come together to celebrate women’s achievements or rally for women’s equality. The day is important because worldwide celebrations are held to celebrate women’s achievements, raise awareness about women’s equality, lobby for accelerated gender parity and fundraise for female-focused charities

While reading about the IWD, I found two separate themes for the day. The theme from the UN is Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world. This theme celebrates the tremendous efforts by women and girls around the world in shaping a more equal future and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. which calls for women’s right to decision-making in all areas of life, equal pay, equal sharing of unpaid care and domestic work, an end all forms of violence against women and girls, and health-care services that respond to their needs. Women stand at the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis, as health care workers, caregivers, innovators, community organizers and as some of the most exemplary and effective national leaders in combating the pandemic. The crisis has highlighted both the centrality of their contributions and the disproportionate burdens that women carry.

Women leaders and women’s organizations have demonstrated their skills, knowledge and networks to effectively lead in COVID-19 response and recovery efforts. Today there is more acceptance than ever before that women bring different experiences, perspectives and skills to the table, and make irreplaceable contributions to decisions, policies and laws that work better for all. Majority of the countries that have been more successful in stemming the tide of the COVID-19 pandemic and responding to its health and broader socio-economic impacts are headed by women. For instance, Heads of Government in Denmark, Ethiopia, Finland, Germany, Iceland, New Zealand and Slovakia have been widely recognized for the rapidity, decisiveness and effectiveness of their national response to COVID-19, as well as the compassionate communication of fact-based public health information.

Yet, women are Heads of State and Government in only 20 countries worldwide. In addition to persistent pre-existing social and systemic barriers to women’s participation and leadership, new barriers have emerged with the COVID-19 pandemic. Across the world, women are facing increased domestic violence, unpaid care duties, unemployment and poverty. Despite women making up a majority of front-line workers, there is a disproportionate and inadequate representation of women in national and global COVID-19 policy spaces. To uphold women’s rights and fully leverage the potential of women’s leadership in pandemic preparedness and response, the perspectives of women and girls in all of their diversity must be integrated into the formulation and implementation of policies and programmes in all spheres and at all stages of pandemic response and recovery.

The second theme is from the official IWD website whose theme is Choose To Challenge. A challenged world is an alert world, and from challenge comes change. Individually, we’re all responsible for our thoughts and actions – all day, every day. We can choose to challenge and call out gender bias and inequality and can choose to seek out and celebrate women’s achievements. Collectively, all of us can help create an inclusive world.

So why does the International Women’s Day matter? It matters because we’re still not there yet! Today is a day to recognise how far we’ve come towards gender equality, and also how far we have left to go. It may seem strange today, but back in 1911, only eight countries allowed women to vote, equal pay for equal work was unheard of – if women were allowed to work at all – and reproductive rights were non-existent. Even supposedly western and first world countries like Switzerland only allowed women to vote in 1971 at the federal level! And middle-eastern countries like Bahrain, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates have only allowed women to vote in the 21st century with Saudi Arabia only allowing women to vote just six years back in 2015!

Today the world has come a long way. Where once women couldn’t vote, they are now leading countries, where women faced restrictions on working, they’re running corporations now. Even though in many countries, women have rights their grandmothers could only have dreamt about, there is still no complete equality. And the majority of the world’s women are still treated as second or third-class citizens.

More than 100 years ago, when women marched for the first time, that first march was about ending harmful workplace conditions, equal rights, equal pay, and an end to exploitation. But in all these years, nothing has changed much and the reasons women march are still relevant today. Because the rights of women are not secure. When rights for women take two steps forward, more often than not, it’s accompanied by a step back and even if laws and rights are established, in many countries these rights are ignored.

The International Women’s Day is a yearly chance to remind those in charge and everyone else that progress has not been equal. This day is an opportunity to acknowledge the compounded challenges faced by women everywhere, be it women of colour, women with disabilities, and queer or trans women, and stand in partnership with them.

Because sometimes we need to remember we’re not alone. Happy International Women’s Day to all the lovely women and the men who support and motivate their women!

International Women’s Day

It’s March and this means it’s time for another International Women’s Day which will take place on Sunday. I have written previously about the IWD as it is usually shortened to and you can read more about the history of this day there.

Every day the global IWD committee has a theme and this year’s theme is “Each for Equal”. An equal world is an enabled world. We are all responsible every day for our own thoughts and action, but we can actively choose to challenge stereotypes, fight bias, broaden perceptions, improve situations and celebrate women’s achievements. Together and collectively every one of us can help create a world where gender is a non-issue and this world we live in is a gender equal world.

Equality is not a women’s issue, it’s a business issue. For economies and communities to thrive, it is essential that those countries and communities practice gender equality. A world which is gender-blind is one which is healthier, wealthier and more harmonious, which makes for an ideal world, which is what we aim to reach for, right? The race is on for the gender equal boardroom, a gender equal government, gender equal media coverage, gender equal workplaces, gender equal sports coverage, more gender equality in health and wealth. So this International Women’s Day, let’s make it happen.

So why is this day important and why are government, non-governmental and other organisations making such a big deal about it each year in March? Well, I believe that women should be celebrated every day but since that does not really happen, we take what we get. IWD is the one day in the year that recognises the value that women bring to the table, both individually and collectively and showcases the struggles they have undergone just to pave the way for the next generation.

In today’s world where many women (and men) have the power of social media in their hands (and phones), it is important that we use that power and influence in our hands and get involved and passionate about this cause of ensuring our next generations don’t have to go through the struggles we went through. So take that step and not just campaign and influence, but also celebrate, support, motivate, high-five and hug the females in your life this International Women’s Day.

Happy International Women’s Day to all the lovely women (and the men who support and motivate their women) reading this post!

The Second Shift


A woman today is expected to ‘have it all’. We are expected to do well in school, be accomplished at work, bear children and also bear the bigger share of the household chores pie, which includes raising said children.

A long time ago, as a young fulltime working mother of toddlers, I remember telling a colleague that my job was my second shift and I still had one more shift to do after getting back home before I could finally rest for the day. At that time, I had no idea of the concept of second shift and what it means to a woman and a mother, but I did know that I was bearing up more than my share of both the chores at home, including cooking and cleaning as well as bringing up BB & GG.

In most societies, it is the woman who traditionally looked after the house and hearth while the man went out to work and earn for his family. When times changed and women started getting educated and getting into the workforce, this changed dynamics in the workforce. But in the homes, times have still stood still. Women are still expected to be the primary caregiver at home, the one who is still in charge of the household.

While times are changing and you do see exceptions to this rule, it is rare enough that when a father goes to a mum and baby class (another example of what I am talking, why can’t it be gender neutral), he is still looked at like something in a zoo.

The Second Shift, also known as the Double Burden refers to, “the workload of people who work to earn money, but who are also responsible for significant amounts of unpaid domestic labour.” The term Second Shift comes from Arlie Hochschild’s book of the same name.

This unpaid domestic labour largely falls upon the shoulders of women who work long hours outside of the home and are also expected to do the majority of household labour. These outdated ideals of women as domestic labourers are not solely influenced by tradition and sexism, but also capitalism. Capitalism inherently devalues domestic labour because it is not compensated, therefore placing it subsequent to work that is done outside the home. Not only this, but the false notion that unpaid domestic work is less valuable than paid labour creates a social climate that is that is not conducive to the equality of the sexes, rather, an atmosphere that does not allow women to readily overcome gender inequalities on account that domestic work is still largely seen as a “woman’s job.”

This idea that capitalism exacerbates social issues is easy to visualize. Imagine all the cleaning ads marketed towards women, all the cooking appliances marketed to female homemakers or advertisements about baby products that only feature women as caretakers. Capitalism markets sexist labour dichotomies because they sell, which in effect, only more deeply ingrains our beliefs about women in the home.


While this thought is evolving and has evolved over the years to include men into bearing an equal portion of the household chores and the raising of their children, in Asia, where traditional notions of gender norms still prevail, this is still more of a ‘work in progress’.

In Western and Southern Asia, women represent only a third of the work force. Many of them, even women in more modernized Asian countries, are involved in the informal sector, in traditional jobs for women, such as caring or teaching, without benefits such as employee health insurance or pension plans. The issue of the double burden is exacerbated in Asian countries due to the large cultural norm of women doing care work held by both men and women. In many developed countries, women drop out of work when they have children in order to have more time to take care of them.

In countries where women have to do paid work in order to feed their family, there is a lack of regulation and safety standards regarding female workers due to the large amount of informal work available. In Thailand for example, due to the severe economic crisis in 1997, many women have jobs in the informal industry, and often do home-based work so that they can do their domestic jobs concurrently with their paid jobs. This increases the work intensity by women doing more than one job at a time, and has been shown to have deteriorating effects on women’s health.

This second shift where women work unpaid at home, with nary a word of appreciation from their spouse, family members and even children, where all housework is still considered ‘mum’s work’, is something that young girls are exposed to since childhood. I read of a study in America where girls aged between 10 and 17 spend two hours more time doing chores at home compared to boys of the same age. At the same time, boys doing the same chores are 15% more likely to be paid for them as opposed to the girls who are expected to do it for free because ‘it is something that girls need to learn anyway’!


This could be the reason why there are so few women in the higher echelons of the corporate world. Because of all the additional work that women put in, they are probably too tired to schmooze and network their way to higher and more demanding positions.

This management gap has far-reaching implications, not just for a woman’s career development but for her salary growth and retirement security as well.

It’s not for lack of trying. According to a report, men and women lobby for promotions, ask for feedback, and negotiate salaries at the same rate. Yet employers and managers treat them differently: They punish women for being pushy, while showering men with tougher assignments, more training, and bigger pay checks. The study found that women who negotiate for a promotion or salary bump are 67% more likely than women who don’t to be labelled “bossy,” “too aggressive,” or “intimidating.” And they’re 30% more likely to hear that than men who negotiate. And women feel the disparity. 1 in 4 women feel they’ve missed out on a raise, promotion, or a chance to get ahead because of their gender.

So what can we do to mitigate this and make the world a more equal one for our daughters and granddaughters? The easiest way to change is to change thinking and the best way to do that is to educate our sons and grandsons and make them aware that the society they live in is one where women are just as equal as they are.

We also need to let our daughters and granddaughters know that they are in no way inferior to their male peers and there is no job which is meant specifically for each gender. This wat, we work towards developing a culture and society where equality is something that is taken for granted, just like breathing, where domestic work, rearing of their children is something that is shared between partners and no one person or gender takes on the lion’s share of what is supposed to be shared chores.

This is a long journey, but one in which we have to act today to see the results in the next generation.