Thinking About International Women's Day

Posted by Tracey Arndt, Acquisitions Editor for Women and Gender Studies in UTP's Higher Education Division.

As of Wednesday morning, over 1,500 events celebrating International Women’s Day were officially linked with the IWD website, 75% of those events taking place in the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, Belize, and Australia. While surely many more events are taking place worldwide, with varying degrees of formal organization, 1,500 is a very small number for a day meant to draw attention to some complex issues and very grand goals.

International Women’s Day has been celebrated since the early twentieth century in many countries, but in 1975, the United Nations established March 8 as the universal day, citing two primary purposes behind it:

  • To recognize the fact that securing peace and social progress and the full enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms require the active participation, equality, and development of women, and
  • To acknowledge the contribution of women to the strengthening of international peace and security.

Each year, the UN suggests a theme for IWD events (in 2012 it is "Empower Rural Women — End Hunger and Poverty") and marks it with a message from the Secretary General.

I applaud the aims of the day and every year it reminds me that I don’t pay enough attention to the status, rights, fights, and futures of women in my community, in this country, or globally. I’m reminded that the “status of women” means the status of me, but I’m stalled when it comes to taking action beyond this recognition. Where do I start? How do I join the conversation? Is the conversation even happening?

Of course it’s happening. Sometimes the debates are front page news and sometimes we have to search harder for them. Sometimes events like International Women’s Day or GOP political races draw attention to them and sometimes peace and quiet leads us to mistakenly believe that rights gained can never be taken away.

So, this International Women’s Day, I invite you to seek out the conversation. To get you started, a few links to recent news items follow below. Of course, I would be remiss not to share a link to UTP’s Gender Studies list or let you know that UTP Higher Education is actively acquiring course books in Women and Gender Studies. Please email me with editorial inquiries.

Some links:

International Women’s Day: We need a women’s rights reawakening (The Toronto Star)

EU eyes forced quotas for women on corporate boards (The Globe and Mail)

International Women’s Day: Why fight for equal rights is still relevant today (Metro, UK)

The best and worst places in the world to be a woman (Belfast Telegraph)

Dreaming of gender equality (Straight Goods News, Canada)

Rwanda: Month-Long Campaign to Promote Women’s Emancipation (allAfrica)

Leave a Reply