8 March is International Women’s Day. It’s just one day of the year when the world’s attention is focused on the past struggles, achievements and future of women. This year’s theme is Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step It Up for Gender Equality, meaning that there should be gender parity by year 2030.

The world has evolved and there are more women today doing work that used to be exclusively carried out by men. The earliest recorded observance of International Women’s Day was in New York, 28 February 1909.  In many countries in Europe in the early 1900s, the observance of International Women’s Day varied.

8 March was designated as the official date to observe International Women’s Day, according to the United Nations’ proclamation in 1977.

Honouring women

Women have taken on more responsibilities since the early 1900s, but there is still much to be done, since many women today still do not have access to basic rights. But women are strong and resilient and continue to face challenges that exist, the most prevalent of which continues to be prejudice. International Women’s Day reminds us just how strong women can be and how much women have achieved and will continue to accomplish. Yes, there are barriers and hardships, but this day is also to celebrate the myriad of accomplishments achieved by women.

Women have become successful business owners. They have taken on senior leadership roles. There have been women who have led nations; some have conquered space, others have become star athletes, chefs, musicians and writers. Can you name a few? Randomly, you can list Angela Merkel, Sheryl Kara Sandberg, Christine Madeleine Odette Lagarde and Dame Stephanie Shirley from the UK among those who are popular. Some are not necessarily widely known but, nevertheless, are holding top positions in various fields including, for example, the former American astronaut Kathryn Sullivan; India’s Chetna Sinha, the founder of the Mann Deshi Foundation; South Africa’s Rapelang Rabana, founder and CEO of Rekindle Learning; Tolu Olubunmi of Nigeria, who is the co-founder of Welcome.us and Bridge International Academies’ Shannon May. They continue to make a difference, not only for women but for men as well.

If you want to honour the woman closest to you, wear a purple ribbon today and greet her by saying “Happy International Women’s Day!”

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