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A global perspective on International Women’s Day

Valeriya Lloyd

Autumn is just around the corner, and so too is the global day of the celebration of social, cultural, economic and political achievements made by women.

International Women’s Day 2017 will be honoured on 9 March with an event held by the United Nations Women’s National Committee of Australia, one of the largest organisation helping to empower women all over the world.

International Women’s Day (IWD) was first born in a time of great crisis, on the edge of turbulence and political uncertainty. The idea for the celebration was originally tabled at the Second Conference of Working Women in Copenhagen in 1910 by Clara Zetkin, the leader of the Woman’s Office for the Social Democratic Party in Germany. Over a hundred women attended the conference, representing unions, social parties and working women’s clubs from seventeen different countries. They supported and approved the celebration of female solidarity, honoured for the first time in several European countries in the middle of the month of March, 1911.

However, recognition wasn’t granted smoothly by the rest of the world. On the eve of the First World War in 1913, women’s suffrage supporter Sylvia Pankhurst was arrested on her way to give a speech in support of peace at Trafalgar Square in London.

The first Australian IWD rally took place in the Sydney in the Domain on March 25, 1928. It was organised by the Militant Women’s Movement and called for equal pay for equal work, an eight hour day for women in retail and also for the basic wage for the unemployed and annual holidays on full pay.

Finally, after decades of silence, in 1975 the International Women’s Day was officially celebrated for the first time by the United Nations and shortly after, the General Assembly adopted a resolution proclaiming 8 March as a United Nations Day for Women’s Rights and International Peace.

In Australia, International Women’s Day became officially recognised ten years after the UN resolution and in 1997, the UN Women’s National Committee of Australia was established as an organisation to unite women and provide guidance and enlightenment to change lives.

“[Today] the organisation exists to raise funds for and awareness of, UN Women’s work in the Pacific and around the world,” explains Imogen Jacobs, a volunteer with UN Women.

“UN Women also provides leadership training to prepare women to stand in (and win) elections and teaches core skills including how to effectively engage and consult with the community; campaigning, policy-making and media skills, while boosting their confidence.”

This year’s UN Women 2017 International Women’s Day Luncheon will be dedicated to focusing on women’s economic empowerment and women’s political participation from Pakistan to the Pacific. The discussion board will include Muniba Mazari, Pakistan’s UN Women National Ambassador, and Aleta Miller, UN Women Representative for the Pacific region. The discussion will be moderated by Tracey Spicer, co-founder and national convenor of Women in Media and ABC broadcaster.

According to Imogen, there will be opportunities throughout the luncheon to meet representatives from NGOs, government and the private sector, many of whom work on policies and initiatives aimed at empowering women and girls. It will also provide a chance to learn more about the work and programs of UN Women across Asia and the Pacific.

In light of recent demonstrations such as the Women’s March in the United States and around the world, the meaning and significance of International Women’s Day has changed and one can only hope it has deepened the focus of our global community on the importance of the rights of women and girls – no matter where they live.

the essentials

What: Canberra Internationa Women’s Day Luncheon
When: Thursday 9 March from 11.30am-2pm
Where: Canberra Convention Centre, 31 Constitution Avenue, Civic
Book your tickets and find more information here:


Valeriya Lloyd

Val is studying Communications in Media and Public Affairs at University of Canberra and has a great passion for writing (in two languages as she originally came to Canberra from Russia). Val enjoys writing about life generally, and sometimes from a fictional perspective. She often generates new ideas in sudden moments and admits that she has at least two diaries, where she writes her notes and inspiration for future stories. She loves to meet new people and showcase their talents and originality. Val is very social person, who loves the local lifestyle and the inner beauty of Canberra. More about the Author