International Women’s Day 2021: Choose to Challenge

International Women’s Day 2021: Choose to Challenge

by Anjanee Sharma on Mar 6 2021 3:40 PM
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Highlights :

  • International Women’s Day is observed on March 8th every year
  • COVID-19 has increased the inequalities faced by girls and women every day
  • 2021 theme ‘Women in Leadership’ aims to amplify their voices and experiences
International Women’s Day (IWD) is observed on March 8th every year to fight for women’s rights and against gender inequality. This day celebrates the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women.
Women are celebrated in all their diversities - faith, race, ethnicity, gender, sowed thatexual identity, or disability.


History of International Women’s Day

In 1908, 15,000 women protested for shorter hours, better pay, and voting rights in New York. The Socialist Party of America announced a National Women’s Day in 1909 to honor the protestors, which went global in 1911. Germany, Denmark, Switzerland, and Austria celebrated the first International Women's Day on March 19, 1911.

Only in 1975 did the United Nations adopt March 8th as International Women’s Day.


Why does International Women’s Day Matter?

Here are some statistics to answer this question:
  • A major report from 2020 showed that climate change increases violence against women and girls - domestic abuse, human trafficking, and sexual assault.
  • 35% of women globally have experienced sexual or physical violence
  • Women partners or exes are being killed by Australian men at the rate of one a week despite domestic violence laws, public awareness, and access to legal protections
  • Access to reproductive rights varies by state in Australia, while parts of the US have passed laws making terminations inaccessible, no matter the reason behind it.
  • 87,000 women are killed every year just because they are women - of these, 50,000 are killed by their male partners or family members
  • 111 countries have no repercussions for marital rape 2.7 billion women are legally restricted from having the same choice of jobs as men
  • 45 countries do not have specific laws against domestic violence


Women in Leadership: Achieving an Equal Future in a COVID-19 World

The global theme this year is Women in Leadership: Achieving an Equal Future in a COVID-19 World, to celebrate the amazing efforts made by women and girls around the world to shape an equal future and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and also highlight the gaps that remain.

COVID-19 has increased the inequalities faced by girls and women every day. This year’s theme aims to amplify their voices and experiences.

Research by the International Women’s Development Agency found that even after 110 years since the first International Women’s Day, women still face significant cultural, socio-economic and political barriers to accessing leadership.

A recent report by the UN Secretary-General also revealed that women are still underrepresented in public life and decision-making. Only 24.9% of national parliamentarians are women even though women are Heads of State or Government in 22 countries. Gender equality among Heads of Government will take another 130 years, if this continues.

Globally, women get paid 11% less than men even though they are at the forefront of the battle against COVID-19, as front-line and health sector workers, scientists, doctors, and caregivers. An analysis of COVID-19 task teams from 87 countries found only 3.5% of them had gender parity.

Some of the most efficient and exemplary responses to the COVID-19 pandemic were led by women, case in point, Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand Prime Minister. She has been hailed around the world for her government’s quick action on the pandemic with an early lockdown, which has helped New Zealand avoid the mass infections and deaths. Yet, women under 30 are less than 1% of parliamentarians worldwide.

Increasing women’s access to leadership roles is an important step towards a more equal COVID-19 world.


The Choose to Challenge campaign is a call to action to choose to challenge and call out gender bias and inequality, choose to seek out, celebrate women's achievements, and collectively help create an inclusive world.

To participate, raise your hand high to show you commit to choose to challenge and call out inequality.

Strike the ‘Choose To Challenge’ pose and share on social media using #ChooseToChallenge #IWD2021 to encourage further people to commit to helping forge an inclusive world.

How Can You Help?

  • Attend a virtual IWD event
  • Take the #ChoosetoChallenge pledge
  • Get educated - Start the conversation
  • Educate your friends - Be an advocate
  • Be deliberate in your choices - Build an environment that values women’s contributions
  • Donate to your favorite feminist cause
  • Choose to challenge inequity
“On International Women’s Day we remember that as long as one woman faces discrimination, harassment, inequality or oppression, we all do.” - International Women’s Development Agency

References :
  1. IWD: IWD 2021 campaign theme: #ChooseToChallenge (
  2. International Women’s Day 2021 | UN Women – Headquarters
  3. International Women's Day 2021 | IWDA
  4. Take the #ChooseToChallenge pledge for International Women’s Day - Security Boulevard