The holiday celebrating women around the world is observed on March 8 every year

By Helen Murphy
March 08, 2019 09:43 AM
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Credit: Benjamin Lowy/Getty

On Friday, March 8, women across the world will celebrate International Women’s Day 2019 with rallies, panels, social media tributes and by spending time with the other fearless females they love and admire.

What’s the history of this holiday, and what does it stand for? Here’s everything you need to know.

What is International Women’s Day?

International Women’s Day is celebrated on March 8 every year. According to the day’s official website, the holiday is “a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women.”

It is not hosted by any specific country, group or organization, so the day “belongs to all groups collectively everywhere.”

The organizers of the day encourage women across the world to host events and celebrate women in a way that encourages “unity, celebration, reflection, advocacy and action.”

RELATED VIDEO: See Prince Harry and Meghan Markle Step Out Together for International Women’s Day

When was International Women’s Day first celebrated?

International Women’s Day has been being celebrated for over a century. According to the website, the first unofficial celebration of the day in the United States was in 1908, when 15,000 women marched through New York City demanding voting rights and fair wages.

In 1909, the Socialist Party of America declared the first National Woman’s Day on Feb. 28. Women continued to celebrate National Women’s Day on the last Sunday of February each year until 1913.

The first global celebration of International Women’s Day was in 1911. In 1913 — once the holiday had become more widespread across the world — the date was changed to March 8.

What is the theme of this year’s International Women’s Day?

The theme of the 2019 International Women’s Day is #BalanceforBetter.

According to the holiday’s website, #BalanceforBetter advocates for gender balance in all areas of the world: from government offices to board rooms to media coverage. To celebrate online, organizers are encouraging people to use the hashtag #BalanceforBetter in any International Women’s Day posts.

“From grassroots activism to worldwide action, we are entering an exciting period of history where the world expects balance,” the website reads. “We notice its absence and celebrate its presence.”

Where are International Women’s Day celebrations taking place?

Each year, different International Women’s Day celebrations take place across the world in different forms — from conferences and panels, to rallies and protests.

Notable events this year include a march and rally in Los Angeles, a celebration in New York City where each woman will receive a flower with an inspirational message, and an International Women’s Day tea party for small business owners in Atlanta.

To see what events are happening in your city, you can check here.

What will celebs be doing to celebrate International Women’s Day?

In years past, celebrities like Kim Kardashian and Reese Witherspoon have paid tribute to the women in their lives on social media and elsewhere. (And of course, celebrity women celebrate their other A-list peers year-round.)

On Friday morning, Emma Watson posted an Instagram tribute for International Women’s day, writing, “Whether you’re marching, dancing, rising, resisting, protesting, striking, uniting or celebrating, wishing you all a wonderful #internationalwomensday.”

This year, Meghan Markle kicked off International Women’s Day by doing what she loves — using her voice to empower young women. The Duchess of Sussex joined a panel discussion on Friday hosted by King’s College London. Others on the panel included musician and activist Annie Lennox, model and activist Adwoa Aboah and former Prime Minister of Australia Julia Gillard.

And keep an eye out for these new playlists: Apple Music recruited visionary women in music including Cardi B, Camila Cabello, Pink, Brandi Carlile and Halsey to curate empowering playlists that highlight the bodies of work of their fellow female artists.