Our calendars are increasingly full of commemorative days and months, but International Women’s Day (IWD) is one of the originals, rooted in early women’s rights and socialist workers’ movements in the US and Europe. You might be surprised that the first official IWD dates back way before the social media activism era to 1911, with rallies drawing more than a million.
Worldwide celebrations on March 8th now run the gamut from marches and panels taking on the patriarchy to dining specials, shopping promotions of female-led brands, and movies to stream with your friend squad.
So how far have we come in more than a century? We put the question of “why do we need International Women’s Day” to our community across Asia—including women in tech, the arts, and philanthropy—to gauge what IWD means to them.
The perspectives shared below make a powerful case for why IWD is still relevant, from raising awareness about the gender gap to building global solidarity to celebrating progress made and inspiring female figures. They also underscore that tokenism won’t cut it. I’m impatient for a future when honouring women and breaking down biases become so engrained that International Women’s Day is just another day.
Rissa Mananquil Trillo, entrepreneur and UN Women advocate
“There still isn’t a single country, no matter how progressive, that can claim to have achieved gender equality, and the pandemic has made things worse. The Global Gender Gap Report 2021 shows the estimated time needed to close the global gender gap has increased from 99.5 years to 135.6 years. With half of the lives in the world at stake, I think we can all agree that is too long a time to wait.
International Women's Day is not just for women—everyone is welcome because no matter your gender or what generation you are from, we all play a part in securing a gender-equal future. When a woman achieves, celebrate it because it paves the way for others and shapes gender attitudes and career aspirations of what women can and cannot do. Seeing is believing: if we can't look up and see women who have been successful, we are less likely to be successful ourselves.”