International Women’s Day—#Choose To Challenge

Kait LeonardBy Kait Leonard      March 5, 2021

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International Women’s Day—#Choose To Challenge
PHOTO BY KELLY RADINSKI Strong, confident women, from left—Morguinn Korbonski, Sadie Radinsky, and April Holmes #Choose to Challenge for International Women’s Day 2021: “A challenged world is an alert world. Individually, we can choose to seek out and celebrate women’s achievements. Collectively, we can all help create an inclusive world. From challenge comes change, so let’s all Choose to Challenge.”
#ChooseToChallenge— On March 8, the 2021 International Women’s Day (IWD) theme joins the ranks of sister hashtag campaigns—#MeToo, #IAmJada, #NiUnaMenos #SayHerName, #DestroyThePatriarchy, #UnDiaSinNosotras
We live in a world where the business of the United States government has been conducted via tweets and the value of a cause or movement is determined by how many shares its hashtag gets. This year, we are being asked to join #IWD2021 by taking the pledge to “challenge inequality, call out bias, question stereotypes, and help forge an inclusive world.”

The first step in fulfilling the 2021 pledge is to spread awareness of gender equality by making the hashtag go viral. With this goal in mind, we are asked to take a photograph of ourselves holding our right hand up in the gesture of a pledge and then post the picture to social media under #ChooseToChallenge #IWD2021. The picture can also be submitted to the IWD website (web address below) by following the links on the 2021 Theme tab.
Gretchen Gorham and her best friend, The Tiniest, take the pledge for gender equality. The Tiniest is having a little trouble with the whole right paw thing, but she’s in!
Besides the obvious trend in social media activism and the need to create group action that complies with pandemic era restrictions, there is a more organic reason for taking this year’s campaign online. International Women’s Day relies on grassroots activism to carry the mission forward. Dating back to its socialist roots, IWD states that it is not “country, group, or organization specific.” The internet provides a space where individuals and small groups can be instrumental in creating bold actions.
In 1910, German activist Clara Zetkin, left, encouraged the International Socialist Congress to create an international version of the U.S. holiday, National Woman’s Day, and a year later, on March 19, 1911, the first IWD was held in Austria, Denmark, Germany, and Switzerland.
THE HISTORY THAT PAVED THE WAY TO THE HASHTAG

On February 28, 1909, the Socialist Party of America organized a National Women’s Day event in New York City. The following year, Clara Zetkin, of the Women’s Office for the Social Democratic Party in Germany, proposed the event should go international. On March 19, 1911, more than one million women and men celebrated the first official International Women’s Day. On March 8, 1917, women in Soviet Russia won the right to vote, and the date was officially adopted for the annual International Women’s Day celebration.

In the following decades, the success of the suffrage movement contributed to a decline in the popularity of the IWD. In 1975, the United Nations celebrated IWD for the first time. The UN began the tradition of annual themes in 1996 with “Celebrating the past, Planning for the Future.” Subsequent themes included “Women at the Peace Table” (1997) “Women and Human Rights” (1998) and “World Free of Violence Against Women” (1999).

Unfortunately, even the UN couldn’t stop time from moving on. By the turn of the millennium, the feminist movement and society’s focus on the status of women was fading. With the specific purpose of reenergizing International Women’s Day, the online platform was launched in 2001.

IWD celebrated its 100-year anniversary in 2011, and to honor the milestone, President Barack Obama established March as “Women’s History Month.” The same year, then Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, launched the “100 Women Initiative: Empowering Women and Girls through International Exchanges.” In the UK, Celebrity activist Annie Lennox led a march across one of London’s iconic bridges to raise awareness for Women for Women International, a nonprofit organization with a mission to empower the world’s most alienated women
Actor/Screenwriter, Nick Jackman takes the pledge for gender quality.
THE PRESENT AND ONWARD

In January 2021, Kamala Harris raised her right hand and took the oath of office, making her the first female Vice President of the United States of America. One hundred nineteen women hold seats in the House of Representatives, and 24 women serve in the Senate. Women, and therefore all of us, have come a long way since 1911.

In spite of our progress, we have miles to go.

One out of every six American women will be the victim of rape or attempted rape in her lifetime, according to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, RAINN.

One in four women in the U.S. will experience sexual violence, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner, according to recent statistics published by the National Coalition Against Domestic violence.

Worldwide, as many as 200,000,000 girls and women have experienced female genital mutilation, and in the United States, the estimated number is 500,000, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Devasting statistics like these, circle the globe.

Our work for gender equality is far from done. Will you take the pledge? #ChooseToChallenge #IWD2021.

REFERENCES

International Women’s Day, internationalwomensday.com

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved on 2/26/2021 from
cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/womensrh/female-genital-mutilation.html

The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Retrieved on 2/26/2021 from https://ncadv.org/STATISTICS

RAINN. Retrieved on 2/26/2021 from rainn.org/statistics/victims-sexual-violence

Women for Women International. Retrieved on 2/26/2021 from womenforwomen.org
Kait Leonard

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