What is International Women's Day?
International Women's Day emerged from women's labour movements across North America and Europe in the early twentieth century. Simultaneously, women across nations were demonstrating for their rights: to vote, to work and to end discrimination on the job. The first Women's Days protested wars and often expressed solidarity with other activists.
In 1975, the United Nations began celebrating 8 March as International Women's Day.
Australia’s first International Women’s Day was held in 1928 in Sydney. Organised by the Militant Women’s Movement, women called for equal pay for equal work, an 8-hour working day for shop girls and paid leave. The next year the event spread to Brisbane. In 1931, annual marches were launched in both Sydney and Melbourne and both marches continue to be held today.
Since these early days, International Women’s Day has continued to grow. It is a day to celebrate women’s achievements and both highlight and work to address barriers that continue to perpetuate gender inequality.
Why it still matters
Gender inequality continues to disadvantage women economically, politically and socially. When women are given equal opportunities to earn, learn and lead – entire communities thrive.
The gender pay gap
In Australia for every $1 on average a man makes, women earn 78c. Over the course of a year, that difference adds up to $26,393.
Women still do the bulk of unpaid household labour and childcare, roughly double that of men, and are twice as likely as men to provide unpaid care for elderly relatives or those living with a disability.
Women are five times more likely than men to experience sexual violence. An average of one woman a week is killed by a current or former partner. At least one in four women have experienced emotional abuse from a partner.
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Both the global and local Australian themes highlight the imperative to fund initiatives promoting gender equality and economic justice for all women.