Building peace in the minds of men and women

International Women's Day

8 March

In 2021, UNESCO joins its voice to that of the entire UN family by celebrating this International Women’s Day under the theme of “Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world”


Article by Audrey Azoulay, UNESCO Director-General, and Katrín Jakobsdóttir, Prime Minister of Iceland.


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"The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continues to exacerbate divisions in our world, particularly gender inequalities. It is therefore more important than ever that 8 March be a day of unity and action. UNESCO will continue to support women and girl's right and access to education, to promote women artists, journalists and researchers. It also insists on the active engagement of men and boys  in order to achieve gender equality”."

— Audrey Azoulay, Director-General, on the occasion of International Women’s Day 2021

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History of International Women's Day

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.