With International Women’s Day back for another year, we thought there was no better time to revisit some of the inspiring women who have helped this momentous day become what it is. Here are some of the inspiring figures behind IWD.
Celebrating the inspiring women behind IWD
International Women’s Day founders
It’s hard to pinpoint one exact ‘founder’ of International Women’s Day because it took the support of thousands of women to get the day to where it is today. However, there were a few women who are notable for shaping IWD.
International Women’s Day began with 15,000 women marching through New York City to demand better pay and voting rights.
One of those is Clara Zetkin. She was the leader of the Women’s office for the Social Democratic Party in Germany, who brought the idea of an international day for women to the table at the International Conference of Working Women in 1910.
Following this, 100 women from 17 countries agreed with the idea and IWD was born.
Pankhurst was a member of the Women’s Social and Political Union who initially helped to design logos, banners and leaflets for their work and ended up becoming an active public speaker at protest. She was arrested at least 15 times while campaigning for women’s rights.
Inspiring supporters of International Women’s day today
Since those early years, there have been thousands of inspiring women campaigning for female-focused issues.
One big marker of International Women’s Day celebrations was in 2011 when the date celebrated its 100th year. In the U.S., President Barack Obama proclaimed the entire month of March 2011 to be women’s history month. Off the back of that Hillary Clinton launched the ‘1oo women initiative’, which gathered one hundred women from 92 different countries for an exchange program.
Nobel Peace prize winner and activist Malala Yousafzai is another big supporter of International Women’s Day. In 2021 she reminded women to celebrate themselves on IWD, telling People Magazine “We still have a lot to fight for, but it’s also a moment to be proud of what we have already done.”
Plenty of Hollywood celebrities have also raised their voices in support of International Women’s Day, particularly in fighting for justice over the #MeToo movement. Figures like Beyonce, Jane Fonda, Priyanka Chopra Jonas and P!nk have been vocal supporters of the date on their social media accounts and through their own work.
Australian women leading the change
We also have a plethora of inspiring female supporters here in Australia with women like Grace Tame and Miranda Tapsell using their platforms to bring attention to women’s issues.
Most recently, we have seen a dozen prominent women including Grace Tame and Brittany Higgins share an open letter to the Australian public about racism, sexism and discrimination within the country.
“Australia, we need to talk,” the video begins, before diving into the the powerful drive for change that started in 2021. Watch it below:
The video asks Australians “to join us in demanding a future in which all women enjoy safety, respect and equity,” with changes to parental leave, plans prioritising First Nations girls and women and consistency around laws surrounding child sexual assault and workplace sexual harassment, among much else.
You can read more about the push for change at SafetyRespectEquity.com.
If you’re in need of some inspiring messages from these ladies to fire you up on International Women’s Day, we’ve compiled a list of quotes for you. Otherwise, you might want to hear them in your ears or see them on your screens, in which case we have a list of podcast and TV show suggestions for you as well.
Don’t forget to get involved with International Women’s Day celebrations near you this year. Everything is kicking off on March 8, and this year’s theme is ‘Breaking the Bias’.