Four things to know about International Women’s Day

A group of women dance during a dedication ceremony in Comoros

March 8 is the International  Women’s Day (IWD). The day was set aside to recognise women for their achievements without regard to divisions, whether national, ethnic, linguistic, cultural, economic or political, according to the United Nations (UN).

This year’s theme is #PressforProgress, which is a call to motivate and unite friends, colleagues and communities to think, act and be gender inclusive.

Here are four things you need to know about the day:

  • This year’s theme is inspired by the #MeToo and #TimesUp Movement

Founded by Tarana Burke 10 years ago, #MeToo is a movement that helps survivors of sexual violence, especially young women of colour. Time Magazine voted the movement as the Person of the Year in 2017, to honour the ‘Silence Breakers’ for speaking out against sexual violence and harassment.

The #TimesUp movement is an initiative by a number of celebrities as an expansion of the conversation surrounding sexual harassment. According to the website, the movement’s mission is to,

partner with leading advocates for equality and safety to improve laws, employment agreements, and corporate policies; help change the face of corporate boardrooms and the C-suite; and enable more women and men to access our legal system to hold wrongdoers accountable.

  • Global Gender Gap is still widening

According to the World Economic Forum’s 2017 Global Gender Gap Report, the gender gap is still widening and it might take the world over 200 years to achieve gender parity. The report has provided a momentum for this year’s IWD as a way to galvanize towards equal pay.

In Kenya, on average, men make sh 11,300 more than a woman per month according to Gender Gap Africa, even though we have laws providing for equal remuneration and fair treatment at work.

  • Values that drive IWD

Ever since it’s inception in 1911, the IWD has been guided by a number of values including:

  1. Justice- meaning women being afforded the same equal rights and opportunities as men
  2. Dignity- all people have the right to be valued, respected and receive ethical treatment
  3. Hope for a better world, where women would receive equal rights and opportunities
  4. Equality- all people have equal opportunities to make the most of their lives and talents
  5. Collaboration in celebrating achievements of women and in calling out for gender parity
  6. Tenacity- considerable attention and effort to forging the rights of women
  7. Appreciation- creating awareness and celebrate the successful achievements of women
  8. Respect for others and respect for self
  9. Empathy- global understandings about the plight of women
  10. Forgiveness- reconciling discrimination through encouraging awareness and banding together to affect positive change.
  • It is a day for collective action

IWD is an event for everyone through collective action and shared responsibility in working towards gender parity. It is a day when everybody, whether government, non-governmental organisations, schools and learning institutions, companies, the media and the community can play a part.

Take Action

As part of commemorating the IWD 2018, the call to #PressforChange involves a number of actions from individuals. Select from the list below the action you would like to take to promote gender parity.

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