International Women’s Day (IWD)

International Women's Day, 8 March 2012

International Women’s Day celebrates the economic, political and social achievements of women in the past, present and future. Each year International Women's Day is celebrated globally on 8 March. 

The global theme for 2012 is Connecting Girls, Inspiring Futures. The United Nation’s 2012 theme is Empower Rural Women – End Hunger and Poverty.

On International Women’s Day, 8 March 2012, the Minister for the Status of Women, Julie Collins MP, launched the Australian National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security 2012-2018, at Garden Island naval facility in Sydney.  The National Action Plan is a whole of government effort, coordinated by the Office for Women. It will consolidate and build on the broad program of work already underway in Australia to integrate a gender perspective into peace and security efforts, protect women and girls’ human rights, particularly in relation to gender-based violence, and promote their participation in conflict prevention, management and resolution.

As part of the International Women’s Day 2012 celebrations, Minister Collins also hosted a breakfast for Indigenous women on Thursday 15 March at Manuka Oval, Canberra.

UN Women Australia

The Government provided funding to UN Women Australia to hold an International Women’s Day breakfast at Parliament House on Wednesday 14 March 2012.  UN Women Australia focused its fundraising efforts this year on supporting the Partners Improving Markets program, which is working to make marketplaces safe for women in Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu.

National Women’s Alliances

The National Women’s Alliances staged a joint International Women’s Day event led by the Australian Immigrant and Refugee Women’s Alliance (AIRWA) on Friday 2 March at the Australian National University.

Several Alliances also launched their latest projects as part of the International Women’s Day 2012 celebrations.  AIRWA launched the In Her Shoes campaign, which uses Facebook to encourage women in Australia, from those newly arrived to those settled here for generations, to tell their story of life in Australia.  The Equality Rights Alliance (ERA)launched the Settle Petal website, which aims to provide a space for young feminists and allies around Australia.  Economic Security 4 Women (eS4W) launched the Does Size Matter? Attitudes to Equal Pay in Small Businesses project.

History of International Women's Day

International Women's Day was first celebrated in 1911 having been proposed a year earlier at the International Conference of Socialist Women in Copenhagen.

Every year since, organisations and individuals across the world have recognised the achievements of women and their contribution to society on 8 March - International Women's Day.

On this day, women can celebrate the progress that has been made but also contemplate those areas of women's lives where more can be done.

Women's access to education, health care and paid labour has improved, and many countries have adopted legislation that promises equal opportunities for women and respect for their human rights.

Despite this, nowhere in the world can women claim to have all the same rights and opportunities as men. Until we all work together to achieve gender equality and secure the rights and full potential of women, lasting solutions to social, economic and political problems are unlikely to be found.

On International Women's Day, like any other day, women around the world will suffer as victims of sexual assault, domestic violence and discrimination. In war, women will be raped, families will be shattered and many remain, displaced, in refugee camps.

We need to see changes that transform relationships between women and men so women will be able to reach their social, financial, political and personal potential.

The centenary of International Women's Day provides women and men with an opportunity to reflect on past struggles and accomplishments as well as challenges still to be overcome.

Centenary of International Women's Day 2011

2011 marked the 100th anniversary of International Women's Day.

UN Women Australia

The Government provided funding of $100,000 to UN Women Australia (formally UNIFEM Australia) to conduct, promote and coordinate a range of projects, activities and events across the country.

National Women's Alliances

The Government also provided a total of $210,000 to the six National Women's Alliances for International Women's Day 2011.

The Alliances' centenary projects were designed to resonate with their members and be meaningful for as many women and men as possible across Australia.

The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women's Alliance (NATSIWA)  honored 100 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women over the past 100 years who have achieved change for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their communities.

The National Rural Women's Coalition and Network (NRWC&N) conducted a live, interactive webinar to connect women in 52 different rural and remote locations to discuss issues of importance to them. The webinar was hosted by ABC journalist, Geraldine Doogue and broadcast on International Women’s Day during nation-wide morning teas held at local councils across rural, regional and remote Australia.

economic Security 4 Women (eS4W) launched a media campaign to promote awareness of issues around equal pay for women.

The Equality Rights Alliance (ERA) launched an online and postcard campaign to encourage young women to share their stories and reflections on body image and the representation of women in the media. The campaign included calling on 100 media and advertising agencies to adhere to and promote the Industry Code of Conduct on Body Image.

The Australian Immigrant and Refugee Women's Alliance (AIRWA) hosted a program of events across the nation to recognise the contributions of immigrant and refugee women to the Australian women's movement.

The Australian Women Against Violence Alliance (AWAVA) created an online timeline of significant events and achievements to raise awareness of violence against women. Liz Broderick launched the timeline and related materials at an International Women’s Day breakfast hosted by ACT Women’s Services.

Other Activities

The Australia Post and the Royal Australian Mint developed a commemorative coin and stamp to recognise economic, political and social achievements of women past and present.

The program of activities and events culminated on 8 March 2011 in a forum at Parliament House for 600 guests. The forum was hosted by the Minister for the Status of Women, the Hon Kate Ellis MP, and featured a panel discussion about the future directions of equality in Australia.

International Women's Day 2010

The United Nation theme for International Women's Day 2010 was equal rights, equal opportunities: progress for all - a theme that goes straight to the heart of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Improving equality between men and women is central to achieving these goals. Without gender equality, women will continue to struggle to fully participate in the economic, social and political life of their countries, all key factors in reducing poverty, enhancing economic growth and democratic governance, and increasing the well-being of women, girls and their families.

International Women's Day 2009

In 2009, the Hon Tanya Plibersek MP and the Office for Women celebrated International Women's Day with an official lunch co-hosted by Cricket Australia during the Australia versus New Zealand match of the International Cricket Council's Women's World Cup at North Sydney Oval.

International Women's Day 2008

As part of International Women's Day in 2008, a panel of five prominent Australian women, facilitated by the Hon Tanya Plibersek MP, discussed and debated the biggest social changes of the past 100 years. The panel discussion covered topics such as pay equity, balancing work and home, industrial relations, retirement savings and being successful in the workplace.


Related websites

State and territory government sites.

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