International Women’s Day is celebrated annually on March 8 to recognize the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women and to raise awareness about the ongoing struggle for gender equality.

In Canada, International Women’s Day is celebrated in many ways, including marches, rallies and other events that highlight women’s issues and celebrate their contributions to society. It is a time to reflect on progress made towards gender equality.

The day is also an opportunity to recognize and celebrate the achievements of women who have broken down barriers and fought for gender equality in Canada and around the world.

History of International Women’s Day

The first National Woman’s Day was observed in the United States on Februrary 28, 1909. The Socialist Party of America designated this day in honour of the New York garment workers’ strike the previous year, where women protested working conditions. The following year, Denmark celebrated Women’s Day and other European countries soon followed suit. During the First World War, International Women’s Day was used to protest the war and push for peace. In 1917, Russian women chose March 8 as their day of protest.

In 1975, during International Women’s Year, the United Nations began adopting March 8 as International Women’s Day. Two years later, in December 1977, the General Assembly proclaimed United Nations Day for Women’s Rights and International Peace to be observed on any day of the year by member states, in accordance with their historical and national traditions.

The importance of International Women’s Day is to celebrate the progress that has been made in advancing women’s rights and to call for continued action to address the challenges that women still face around the world.

Themes for 2023

The United Nation’s theme for International Women’s Day 2023 is “DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality,” including “innovation and technological change, and education in the digital age for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls.”

The UN recognizes and celebrates women and girls who are championing the advancement of transformative technology and digital education. International Women’s Day 2023 will explore the impact of the digital gender gap on widening economic and social inequalities.

According to the UN, bringing women and other marginalized groups into technology results in more creative solutions and has greater potential for innovations that meet women’s needs and promote gender equality. Their lack of inclusion, by contrast, comes with massive costs.

According to the UN Women’s Gender Snapshot 2022 report, over the last decade, the exclusion of women from the digital world has resulted in a loss of $1 trillion from the gross domestic product (GDP) of low- and middle-income countries, and this number is expected to increase to $1.5 trillion by 2025 if no action is taken. Reversing this trend will also require tackling the problem of online threats, which a study of 51 countries revealed 38 per cent of women had personally experienced.

By adopting a gender-responsive approach to innovation, technology, and digital education, the UN aims to increase the awareness of women and girls about their rights and civic engagement. The advancement of digital technology presents vast opportunities to address development and humanitarian challenges and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals outlined in the 2030 Agenda. However, these opportunities also carry the risk of perpetuating existing patterns of gender inequality. Unfortunately, growing inequalities in digital skills and access to technology are leaving women behind and contributing to a digital gender divide. Therefore, inclusive and transformative technology and digital education are crucial for building a sustainable future that includes everyone.

The Government of Canada’s theme for International Women’s Day 2023 is Every Woman Counts, “a reminder that all women, from all ages and walks of life, have a place in every aspect of Canadian society, including in the economic, social and democratic spheres.”

UCW celebrates International Women’s Day  

University Canada West is hosting an International Women’s Day networking panel on Wednesday, March 8. The event is open to the UCW Community. Panelists include:

  • Berenice Díaz Ceballos, Consul General of Mexico in Vancouver
  • Andrea Ornelas, Legal Project Manager at Lululemon
  • Lily Dhadral, Manager of Employment Programs at Progressive Intercultural Community Services Society
  • Eileen Wang, Manager of the Career Development Centre
  • Ana Miranda, Manager of Student Rights and Support Services
  • Gelareh Farhadian, Department Chair of Marketing, Strategy & Entrepreneurship in the MBA Program.

Published on March 3, 2023.