What is International Women’s Day?

International Women’s Day is a day in the year where Women from all over the world come together to celebrate how far women have come in society, and use the day to protest for equality in the world.

We have made massive progress over the years:

  • In 2017 the #MeToo campaign encouraged women all over the world to talk about their harassment and sexual assault experiences, this lead to many high profile convictions and closure for these women.
  • In 2019 there were a few key events that contributed to equality; in Finland a new coalition Government was formed and headed by 5 women. In Northern Ireland abortion was decriminalised and in Sudan a law was revoked that used to control how women dressed and acted when in public.
  • In 2021 the inauguration of Kamala Harris took place. She is the first female, the first Black Background, and the first Asian American Background Vice President in America.

Even though we’ve come so far, there are still so many things we need to fight for; the IWD campaign states that we “will not see Gender Parity for almost a century”. This means that women will not be equal to others financially or in status for nearly a 100 years. There are unfair happenings all over the world:

  • Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan (Asia) Police detained dozens of women after masked men attacked marchers during a Women’s Rights protest.
  • In Mexico, 80,000 women began a march to draw attention to the rising levels of violence against women, some women threw petrol bombs and police responded with Tear Gas. 60 women left injured.
  • 33,000 girls are forced to become child brides every single day.
  • 132 million girls are NOT in school getting the education they deserve.
  • Women are paid 23% LESS than men globally for the same jobs. In most cases women would have to work an extra 40 days a year to earn what men earn, however this gap is so much bigger for Black and Hispanic women. These women would have to work an extra 6 months!

This year the IWD theme is #ChooseToChallenge. The campaign encourages everyone (not just women) to highlight and challenge gender bias and inequality. The theme is based around the phrase ‘Challenge brings change’ hoping to get the world challenging stereotypes, and offensive and unfair actions and eliminating these through change. The campaign asks everyone who wants to be involved to take a picture of themselves holding their hand up, showing that they stand for equality and post to as many social media platforms as possible with the hashtag “#ChooseToChallenge”.

A little bit of history:

The first movements around this were in 1908 when 15,000 women took to the streets in New York City. They marched for shorter working hours, better pay and the right to vote. It was the Socialist Party in America that declared a National Women’s Day the next year, in 1909.

From this point, Clara Zetkin (a member of the Conference of Working Women) decided it was time to make Women’s Day international. She pitched her decision to the group of 100 women from over 17 different countries and all members agreed with her, unanimously. The first International Women’s Day was celebrated in 1911, meaning this year (in 2021) we will celebrate the 110th IWD.

The date wasn’t officially chosen until 1917. A war-time strike occurred as Russian women demanded “peace and bread”. Just four days into the strike the Russian emperor was forced to abandon his role, and the provisional Russian Government granted women the right to vote. The date the strike commenced is now known as International Women’s Day. Originally, it was 23rd February by the Julian calendar, which is the equivalent as 8th March by Gregorian calendar.

What do we do in our service?

We have gender specific pathways for Women and work with three Female Specific services.

  • Female Pathway – West Yorkshire Liaison and Diversion Service (L&D) have developed a gender specific pathway to support women referred into the service. This decision was made due to results from research highlighted in the Cortson report, and our experience to date. The research stated that women in contact with the criminal justice system respond better within female focused environments, and that the nature of the offences committed by females – and the reasons behind these offences – are often quite different to those of males. Click here to read more
  • Well Women – a service based in Wakefield providing mental health, emotional and practical support in a women only space. We support women of 16 and above at our premises in the centre of Wakefield and outreach our services across the Wakefield district. Our women-only services provide a holistic, non-medical approach to helping improve women’s health and well-being.
  • Together Women – provide holistic services to women and girls with multiple and complex issues across Yorkshire, Humberside and the North West of England. Their women centres located in Leeds; Bradford; Hull; Sheffield; and HMP New Hall offer safe, women-only spaces from which key workers and sessional staff provide needs assessment, action-planning, support and case management for women referred by a number of different agencies.
  • Women Centre – a local Charity that works in Kirklees and Calderdale supporting over 3000 local women a year (over 100,000 women over the 30+ years). Our main areas of service delivery are Domestic Abuse and Women’s Health and Wellbeing.

Take a look at a case study written by one of our Female Pathway Support Time Recovery Workers here.