International Women's Day

8 March

In 1945, the Charter of the United Nations became the first international agreement to affirm the principle of equality between women and men. The UN celebrated its first official International Women's Day on 8 March during International Women’s Year in 1975. Two years later, in December 1977, the General Assembly adopted a resolution proclaiming a United Nations Day for Women’s Rights and International Peace to be observed on any day of the year by Member States, in accordance with their historical and national traditions.

International Women’s Day first emerged from the activities of labor movements at the turn of the twentieth century across North America and Europe. The first National Woman's Day was observed in the United States on February 28 1909, which the Socialist Party of America dedicated in honor of the 1908 garment workers' strike in New York where women protested against harsh working conditions. In 1917, women in Russia chose to protest and strike under the slogan "Bread and Peace" on the last Sunday in February (which fell on 8 March on the Gregorian calendar). Their movement ultimately led to the enactment of women’s suffrage in Russia.

International Women's Day is an occasion to celebrate the progress made towards achieving gender equality and women's empowerment but also to critically reflect on those accomplishments and strive for a greater momentum towards gender equality worldwide. It is a day to recognize the extraordinary acts of women and to stand together, as a united force, to advance gender equality around the world.

UNESCO is works in all of its domains to promote gender equality and women's rights and empowerment for its mandate for peace and sustainable societies. Gender Equality is one of two Global Priorities of the organization since 2008. Global Priority Gender Equality is implemented through result-oriented actions both within the Secretariat and in Member States with a wide range of partners.

 

MESSAGE FROM THE DIRECTOR-GENERAL

"The promotion of gender equality is one of UNESCO’s global priorities. In all the fields within its mandate – education, culture, science, communication and information – UNESCO is committed to encouraging the access of girls and women to all types of education and training, removing barriers that hinder their personal and professional development, and enabling them to be better represented in cultural life, science and the media. Whether through its literacy programmes for young girls or its patronage of already experienced women scientists, UNESCO is multiplying its initiatives to fight discrimination against girls and women and promote their skills and talents."

— Audrey Azoulay, Director-General, on the occasion of International Women’s Day

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