Why Are There Two International Women’s Day Themes This Year?

Why Are There Two International Women’s Day Themes This Year?

International Women’s Day 2023 is coming up this week, Wednesday, March 8, but there seem to be two different themes running at the same time.

If you’ve seen your company or other corporate businesses promoting the ‘Embrace Equity’ theme for this year’s International Women’s Day, that’s not actually the one the United Nations are using. Rather, all the UN events for International Women’s Day 2023 are under the theme ‘Cracking the Code: Innovation for a gender equal future’.

So, who has created the ’embrace equity’ one? Well, a website using the URL internationalwomensday.com which, according to ABC, is delivered by an international advertising company, Aurora Ventures. That website is also the top place in Google when you search ‘International Women’s Day,’ outranking the UN.

Is this an issue if both promote the uplifting and amplification of women? Well, let’s break it down.

So, what is the 2023 International Women’s Day theme?

While there is nothing wrong per se about the ’embrace equity’ campaign but as Z Feed pointed out, there’s a bit of an ethical issue with large corporate businesses getting in on the ‘hype’ of equality.

This isn’t a new phenomenon either, if we look at last year’s Internation Women’s Day theme, they’re different again.

Last year’s theme for UN Women was ‘Changing Climates: Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow’. IWD.com’s theme for last year was ‘#BreakTheBias’.

The IWD.com one is catchier and simpler, which some may say dilutes the proper meaning behind the UN theme and thus only being a tagline for corporate to promote for one day.

When you look at both of them side by side, you can see that the UN Women’s theme is aimed at taking tangible actions to help all women irrespective of their job or economic status.

international women's day theme
Image: UN Women Australia

Cracking the Code

The United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, or UN Women, is the world’s leading coordinator of advocacy for global gender equality.

International Women’s Day was recognised by UN Women back in 1977, which saw an array of grassroots feminist movements merging into one event.

As the UN Women’s website points out, the theme for International Women’s Day 2023 is Cracking the Code: Innovation for a gender-equal future which they say is to tackle the gender disparity in digital technology.

“We need to disrupt the current codes of behaviours, beliefs and systems that foster entrenched inequality through innovation, access, and education. We must crack our cultural, economic and social codes and behaviours that entrench inequality,” the UN Women website says.

The ABC recently spoke to Simone Clarke, UN Women Australia chief executive, who said that the International Women’s Day theme isn’t actually picked by the UN but rather decided in a large conference for women.

Said conference is called the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), which is the UN’s second-largest annual gathering of officials, activists, academics and policy-makers.

Embrace Equity 

As mentioned, running alongside the UN Women’s theme is another theme ‘#EmbraceEquity’.

On the IWD.com website, it says the aim of the International Women’s Day 2023 campaign is to “get the world talking about Why equal opportunities aren’t enough. People start from different places, so true inclusion and belonging require equitable action.”

The website then goes on to list definitions of the word ’embrace’ with some images of people hugging themselves alongside platitudes. It’s all a little odd.

Are the different themes an issue?

As Clarke told the ABC, having a corporate International Women’s Day campaign and organisation only “muddies the waters”.

“When you’ve got two different themes floating around in any marketplace, it creates confusion,” UN Women Australia chief executive Simone Clarke told the ABC,

“I think it probably undermines the focus for the year and that’s concerning to me.”

There are also some issues with the way that the origins of International Women’s Day are portrayed.

IWD.com basically states that no one owns the day. Not even NGOs, charities, governments or women’s networks. It claims that the day belongs to ‘all groups collectively, everywhere’.

UN Women, however, acknowledges that the day came about because of grassroots activism and women fighting tirelessly for equality.

Either way, it’s important that we continue to fight for gender equality and work to improve the lives of women across the globe, not just those in the corporate sector.

If you want to listen to some incredibly powerful audiobooks to celebrate International Women’s Day this year, check these out.

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