International Women’s Day 2024: What is it and how can you get involved?

International Women’s Day 2024: What is it and how can you get involved?

International Women’s Day sees countries all over the world unite in the celebration of women’s achievements.

Taking place on March 8, the event honours women of the past, present, and future generations who have fought for change in gender equality and funding female-focused charities.

Under a new annual theme, organisers invite men and women to partake in campaign efforts to raise awareness.

Here’s what International Women’s Day is about and how you can get involved in this year’s event.

What is International Women’s Day?

International Women’s Day (IWD) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women.

Origins in women’s suffrage have evolved into a day of celebration and advancement of women’s rights.

How did International Women’s Day begin?

The first official International Women’s Day was in 1975, when it was recognised by the United Nations (UN).

But its origins began earlier, in 1908, when a women’s rights march in New York City saw 15,000 people advocating for better pay and voting rights.

IWD was then commemorated in the United States on February 28, 1909, with countries like Austria, Denmark, Germany, and Switzerland joining the occasion in 1911.

Clara Zetkin suggested the event be taken global at the International Conference of Working Women in Copenhagen in 1910.

The date wasn’t formalised until a wartime strike in 1917, when Russian women demanded “bread and peace”. Four days into the strike, the tsar was forced to abdicate, and the provisional government granted women emancipation.

The strike began on March 8, and this became the date that International Women’s Day is celebrated.

What is the theme this year for International Women’s Day?

The theme for International Women’s Day 2024 is Inspire Inclusion.

According to the official IWD website: “When we inspire others to understand and value women's inclusion, we forge a better world. And when women themselves are inspired to be included, there's a sense of belonging, relevance, and empowerment.”

The aim of this year’s theme is to encourage people to challenge when women aren’t included in the wider conversation, whether it’s in the workplace, in decision making or the general public.

The organisation is encouraging people around the world to use the hashtags #IWD2024 and #InspireInclusion while sharing positive messages about the important celebration to show solidarity with women and girls.

What’s happening on the day and in London?

There are lots of events happening across London to mark International Women’s Day as well as Women’s History Month. Some of the events you may want to take part in include:

Women of the World: One Night Live in London: An evening of celebration, fun and conversation at Shoreditch Town Hall geared toward celebrating the achievements of women, girls and non-binary people.

The Fashion Brunch: A day of networking, speeches and runways that celebrate IWD at the Courtyard by Marriott London Heathrow.

Your Heart Matters: This year, Valve for Life, Heart Valve Voice, Medtronic and St George's Hospital have teamed up to offer people free heart checks for IWD 2024 near Battersea Park.

Artist Talk & Poetry Reading - "This Delightful Woman": Join artist Susannah Goulding for a talk about her exhibition to celebrate International Women’s Day.

London walking tours: There are numerous walking tours taking place around the capital to celebrate IWD this year. This includes a Women in Art Walking Tour at the National Gallery, as well as others in East London and Bloomsbury that celebrates women from that area.

How can I get involved?

The IWD campaign is calling for people to use this year’s hashtags and upload pictures of themselves showing a heart symbol.

You can also upload a statement and your own IWD pictures here. The International Women’s Day website also includes an arsenal of free resources, including graphics and event ideas so you can take part in your own way.

You can show support by dressing in campaign colours purple, green, and white, to represent justice, dignity, hope, and purity.

Do we still need an International Women’s Day?

The short answer is yes.

While women’s rights and the equality narrative have excelled in some parts of the world, the reality is that women still face countless challenges because of their gender — even in the UK.

The World Economic Forum previously claimed that gender parity is about a century away, meaning there’s a long way to go.

The World Bank also revealed that 2.4 billion women of working age around the world don’t receive equal economic opportunities compared to men.

This campaign is as much for future generations as it is for people today. It’s about bringing these topics to the forefront, shining a light on the challenges and finding impactful outcomes.

According to IWD organisers: “There's urgent work to do - and we can all play a part.”

They also added: “Everyone everywhere can help forge women's equality. Collective action and collaborative support for forging women's equality matters, and all groups should be welcome to advance women's equality by whatever appropriate means they choose.”