IWD stands for International Wom— "I Want to Dream".
Updated: Mar 9
IWD means different things to everyone. For some, it symbolises female empowerment, a day of trumpeting wondrous works accomplished by females. To others, IWD is about celebrating female friendships and gifting tulips.
For me, IWD is about dreaming.
It is a day that reminds me that my ability to dream is a privilege that the women who came before me toiled hard for.
It is a day that represents the dream I have for our world - to be an inclusive place that does not penalise on the basis of gender. As you journey with me through this article, I hope you, too, uncover what IWD means to you.
A bit of IWD's history
It wasn't that long ago when women across Austria, Denmark, Germany, and Switzerland were rallying to protest for equal rights for women to work and vote.
It was in 1911 when International Women’s Day (IWD) was first commemorated.
This year we're proud to celebrate the 112th IWD (we've passed the 100th-year mark and more!). But even as we bask in the progress and changes we've made, we know that there is always more to be done. Just imagine—it was only recently in 2015 that Saudi Arabian women were allowed to vote in local elections for the first time.
Going beyond equality to strive for equity.
This year’s theme (#EmbraceEquity) is a timely reminder that creating a world inclusive and accepting of all genders is not about erasing any differences that might exist.
If you’re thinking, “Gender equality, gender equity, so many terms. What’s going on?”... fret not, let me explain.
While gender equality is about ensuring that women are allowed access to the same resources as men, equity goes the extra step in providing women with resources that cater to their unique needs that differ from that of men.
As the IWD website puts it, "Equality is the goal, and equity is the means to get there."
We can all be a part of this movement in our own ways, big or small. Here, I share four suggestions on how to spend this year’s IWD in a more meaningful manner.
#1: Some good old reflection.
You do not need to come up with a solution to every gendered issue overnight. It's the small steps that count. Reading this article is a great initiative. I encourage you to take it a step further and ponder on any past contributions to the gender equality movement.
What more can you do? What would you like to do less?
Set aside time to think about certain prejudices you may be harbouring (consciously or unconsciously). If you are feeling inspired, maybe discuss it with a close friend (openness and honesty are key) and explore the "why" behind these prejudices. Together, come up with practical solutions in order to keep these biases at bay.
#2: Is it even a celebration if you don’t spend some money?
Donate or give your time towards a charity or organisation working to empower women. Make sure to do some research into the ones that speak to you. Your contribution and involvement have the potential to change lives in more ways than you expect. "It hits different" when you choose to surround yourself with like-minded people who believe in the same cause you do. Who knows, you might make a habit out of it and become a regular donor/volunteer.
#3: Spice things up, and make a difference.
People often remark that you can only change yourself. While that is true, you also possess the power to influence your environment for the better.
If you witness sexism or hear sexist remarks, do not be afraid to call out the perpetrator. Stand up for discrimination against women, whether in public spaces or in your workplace. Please do so respectfully. This IWD, remind yourself to be brave in the face of discrimination.
#4: Don’t stop with just one day.
March is also Women’s History Month, and we remember and celebrate the contributions made by women. So really, your enthusiasm doesn't have to end in a day when we can have a whole month to recognise the wonders women are capable of!
My hope is that we never stop acknowledging and valuing the role women play in our society. The pursuit of gender equity is an ongoing one that requires all of us to join forces in creating a more inclusive space for us all.
Let IWD be the catalyst that kick-starts your role in this journey. Keep challenging sexism, keep defying the odds and keep spreading kindness.
To all the women out there, thank you for your efforts. Thank you for the silent battles you brave every day. You are seen, valued and celebrated.
Oh! And I almost forgot. Happy International Women’s Day, dear reader :)