Happy International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day is celebrated annually on March 8 to recognize the accomplishments of women all over the world. Women have made tremendous contributions and innovations in every field imaginable. The United States observed National Woman’s Day for the first time on February 28, 1909. The following year, at the second International Conference of Working Women, the German women’s rights activist Clara Zetkin proposed the idea of an “International Working Women’s Day.” The occasion was popularized in 1977, after the United Nations invited member states to declare March 8 as the UN Day for Women’s Rights and World Peace.

In the United States, International Women’s Day evolved into Women’s History Week and later, Women’s History Month. Both of these celebrations also happen in March. International Women’s Day is not officially recognized as a U.S. holiday, but it is celebrated in Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, China, Cuba, Georgia, Guinea-Bissau, Eritrea, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Madagascar, Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Nepal, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Vietnam and Zambia. The holiday is similar to Mother’s Day in some of these countries because children might give gifts to their mothers and grandmothers. In many places, it is also typical for a man to give flowers to his mother, wife, girlfriend, daughter, and other women in his life.

The theme of International Women’s Day 2016 is #PledgeforParity, a call to action for accelerating gender parity around the world. The World Economic Forum predicts that it will take 117 years to achieve gender parity. Many women continue to face unequal pay, workplace bias, and other roadblocks that prevent them from achieving their dreams. In the United States, women continue to earn less than men for the same work, and women disproportionately work minimum-wage jobs, where they can’t earn enough to provide for a family.

Make the #PlegeforParity and share your support for gender parity in the U.S. and around the world.