International Women’s Day: A journey towards Gender Equality

International Women’s Day 2024

On March 8th, 2024, the world will once again gather to commemorate the day of the International agreement to affirm the principle of gender equality. We celebrate this day not only to honour the achievements of women but to promote an inclusive, equitable, and diverse world. This year, the campaign theme “Inspire Inclusion” is a poignant reminder of the importance of embracing diversity, fostering inclusivity, and empowering women.

As we mark International Women’s Day in 2024, it’s essential to reflect on the progress we’ve made towards gender equality while recognising the challenges that persist globally in implementing social reforms. Aligned with the United Nations theme, “Invest in women: Accelerate progress,” this year’s International Women’s Day resonates with the mission of inspiring inclusion and advancing gender equality worldwide.

On this day, individuals, communities, and institutions come together to celebrate the achievements of women from diverse backgrounds and advocate for a more equitable and inclusive society. Through events, discussions, and initiatives, International Women’s Day 2024 serves as a catalyst for change, sparking conversations, raising awareness, and mobilising action toward achieving gender equality. This International Women’s Day, we will stand in solidarity with the women of Ukraine, who have shown their unwavering strength during the challenges of war and have proven the essential and irreplaceable contribution of women in the workforce.

The EU’s Commitment to a gender equal future

On February 16, 2023, EEAS Secretary-General Stefano Sannino introduced the EEAS 2023 -2025 Agenda for Diversity and Inclusion. This comprehensive strategy, a first for the EEAS, addresses all forms of discrimination and integrates both internal and external. Secretary-General Sannino described the launch event as a “call to action” and emphasized the collective journey ahead. He highlighted the importance of increasing the political visibility of civil society organisations, human rights defenders, and activists to create safe spaces and uphold their rights and respect.

Stakeholders across the EU reaffirm their dedication to the theme of inclusivity, including The European Parliament, which is actively involved in commemorating International Women’s Day. The European Parliament is highly committed to promoting and defending gender equality through various means such as legislation, case law, and changes to the Treaties. The current gender equality strategy prioritises an intersectional approach across EU policies and advocates for dedicated funding to achieve a gender-equal future.

The European Parliament Liaison Office in Dublin is actively working towards advocating International Women’s Day by hosting events and webinars to promote representation and education. One of the most notable events was the ‘Women on Boards’ webinar, where President von der Leyen stated, “We are making progress, but not fast enough, not everywhere in the EU, and not nearly enough.” On the 7th of March 2024, Fine Gael rapporteur Frances Fitzgerald will attend the FEMM committee meeting to report on the proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on combating violence against women and domestic violence.

GDSI works closely with the European Parliament Liaison Office in Dublin and supports the ongoing efforts made by the EPLO to combat gender inequality. The European Parliament is committed to promoting gender mainstreaming in all areas of policymaking, which plays a crucial role in advancing women’s rights and gender equality. This commitment is not limited to International Women’s Day but extends throughout the year.

IWD around the globe

International Women’s Day was born from the crucible of socio-political unrest and inequality. This day gained traction following a proposal by German socialist and feminist Clara Zetkin at the International Conference of Working Women held in Copenhagen in 1910. Zetkin’s proposal for an annual day to advocate for women’s rights and suffrage was met with widespread support, and International Women’s Day was celebrated for the first time on March 19, 1911, in Austria, Denmark, Germany, and Switzerland.

Since then, International Women’s Day has been celebrated around the globe as a powerful testament to the achievements, struggles, and ongoing fight for gender equality. In many countries, International Women’s Day is a national holiday and is celebrated with traditions such as flower-giving and making declarations of appreciation to the women. International Women’s Day is celebrated on March 8th every year to acknowledge and appreciate the achievements of women across the world. While the day is marked in various ways in different countries, some nations, such as China and Madagascar, observe it as a public holiday exclusively for women.

In contrast, many other countries use this day to stage organised street marches and protests outside government buildings to voice their political demands. Countries such as Turkey, Kenya, Pakistan, Azerbaijan, and El Salvador are known to take part in such protests each year. These countries demand equal pay, better political representation, and an end to violence against women. In recent years, many International Women’s Day protests have included anti-war demonstrations in solidarity with Ukraine.

In Ireland, the day is marked by numerous events organised by women’s organisations, community groups, universities, and government agencies across the country. Trinity College Dublin hosted panel discussions featuring prominent women from various fields, including academia, business, politics, and activism. Women’s rights organisations in Dublin and Cork have organised marches and rallies to mark International Women’s Day. The National Gallery of Ireland has curated special exhibitions showcasing the works of women artists throughout history. These exhibitions celebrate the artistic achievements of women and highlight their contributions to the world of art. The city of Galway is well known for its annual International Women’s Day Festival.

The importance of International Women’s Day 2024

International Women’s Day remains crucial because, despite progress, gender inequality persists in various forms worldwide. This day is a symbol of empowerment and solidarity. It highlights the disparities between genders and calls for action to address them. It is a reminder of the political issues that women face and fosters solidarity and collective action to advocate for measures to prevent and address gender-based violence. The day also serves as a reminder of the important role that women play in society. It acknowledges their contributions to the economy, society, and family. It recognises their resilience, strength, and determination in the face of adversity and discrimination.

On International Women’s Day 2024, we stand with Ukrainian women amidst the ongoing conflict. International Women’s Day takes on a poignant significance, recognising their resilience, strength, and leadership in times of crisis. Despite the challenges of war, Ukrainian women continue to drive forward, demonstrating remarkable courage in the face of adversity. International Women’s Day serves as a moment to honour the extraordinary contributions of Ukrainian women and to show unity with them as they navigate the complexities of conflict and strive for peace and stability in their country. Their stories of strength and perseverance inspire us all to advocate for gender equality and justice, recognising that women’s leadership and voices are indispensable in building a better world for everyone. Ukrainian women have emerged as leaders in the workforce, playing key roles in driving economic growth and innovation. As Ukraine works towards rebuilding and healing, the leadership of women in the workforce will continue to be instrumental in driving economic recovery, fostering social cohesion, and building a more sustainable future. Their contributions serve as a testament to the strength and resilience of women, who stand as beacons of hope and progress amid adversity.

International Women’s Day is an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of women and to advocate for gender equality and women’s rights. It is a day that encourages us to take action towards a more inclusive and equal society for all.