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International Women's Day: Choose to Challenge

By Naeema Yaqoob Sajid

When asked to write an article to celebrate International Women’s Day (IWD), much to my regret it occurred to me that I really don’t know enough about it. This is a bit of a revelation and source of embarrassment to me, given the concept which it looks to promote i.e., gender equality, is no stranger to me. It’s only later in life that I have realised that, unintentionally I have fought for this all of my life. Being a second-generation immigrant Pakistani Muslim woman growing up in the 70’s and 80’s, surprisingly, this day has passed me by without much recognition in the past. With this year’s theme being ‘choose to challenge’ my first challenge is to myself which is to learn more about IWD.

So, firstly a few basics:

IWD was officially recognised by the United Nations in 1977, when the General Assembly adopted a resolution proclaiming a United Nations Day for Women's Rights and International Peace. However, its widely accepted that the concept itself came much earlier, most likely from the activities of female labour movements. The earliest such movement appears to have been in 1848, when Americans Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott congregated a few hundred people at their first women’s rights convention in New York. At this they demanded civil, social, political and religious rights for women in a ‘Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions’.

Since those early years, IWD has grown and now symbolises a global celebration of women’s achievements in both developed and developing countries alike. After World War II, 8th Mar