International Women’s Day 2024: Events, history and resources

Thu 07 Mar 2024

This year we look at the background and history of International Women's Day, along with resources to learn more.

historic black and white photo of 3 women walking down a road

International Women’s Day 2024

Aotearoa events

The 8th of March 2024 marks International Women’s Day. A number of events are taking place around the country in recognition of the day. We have compiled a list of events related to family violence, sexual violence and toiora whānau in our calendar of events including:

  • 7 March 2024, 7-8pm - IWD 2024 National Zoom Gathering with guest speaker Dhilum Nightingale - Shanti Ethnic Women's Services, online
  • 8 March 2024, 7:30-9am - International Women's Day Breakfast 2024 (Livestream) - Zonta Club of Wellington, online
  • 8 March 2024, 9:30am-12pm - Gender Equal NZ Conference - NCWNZ Wellington Branch, online
  • 8 March 2024, 12:30-2pm - Countering Misogyny: The Link Between Online Misogyny and Violent Extremism - NCWNZ Influence Action Hub, online.

The National Council of Women New Zealand | Te Kaunihera Wāhine of Aotearoa has a broader list of additional events happening around the country for International Women's Day.

International Women’s Day is not typically a significant day in maramataka Māori. However, media have often highlighted wāhine Māori in recognition of International Women's Day:

For more stories of wāhine Māori see NUKU from Qiane Matata-Sipu. NUKU amplifies Indigenous female change-makers, system shakers and leaders through audio podcasts, photography, videography, books, art and live events. 

UN theme

The 2024 United Nations theme for International Women’s Day is Invest in women: Accelerate progress. 5 key areas are identified for global advocacy and activism:

• “Investing in women, a human rights issue: Time is running out. Gender equality is the greatest human rights challenge, benefiting everyone.

• Ending poverty: Due to the COVID pandemic and conflicts, 75 million more people have fallen into severe poverty since 2020. Immediate action is crucial to prevent over 342 million women and girls living in poverty by 2030.

• Implementing gender-responsive financing: Conflicts and rising prices may lead 75% of countries to cut public spending by 2025, negatively impacting women and their essential services.

• Shifting to a green economy and care society: The current economic system disproportionately affects women. Advocates propose a shift to a green economy and care society to amplify women's voices.

• Supporting feminist change-makers: Despite leading efforts, feminist organizations receive only 0.13% of official development assistance.”

The 68th session of the United Nation's Commission on the Statue of Women (CSW68) is taking place in New York from 11 - 22 March 2024. The priority theme for CSW68 is “Accelerating the achievement of gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls by addressing poverty and strengthening institutions and financing with a gender perspective.” Some of the key topics include: gender budgeting, financing social protection and care systems, engaging and financing women’s organisations and collectives, and the intersection of poverty and gender.

A delegation from Aotearoa will be attending, including the CSW68 non-governmental delegate Aleisha Amohia.

The website, which started in 2001, is not connected to the UN or women’s movements. It is managed by a UK-based marketing company to promote themes and hashtag campaigns for International Women’s Day with corporate sponsorship. In 2024, the theme is #InspireInclusion. For more about the background on the website see the Women's Agenda 2024 article Don’t ‘Inspire Inclusion’ and get duped again on International Women’s Day and the 2023 article Please don’t ’embrace equity’ this IWD. You’re being duped.

History of International Women's Day

The United Nations website notes that "International Women's Day first emerged from the activities of labour movements at the turn of the twentieth century in North America and across Europe."

International Women’s Day has its roots in Western socialist and trade union and movements and later, the Western second-wave feminist movement. Socialist women in the early 20th Century proposed an annual Women’s Day, which would highlight women’s suffrage as a step towards socialism and ending capitalism. Socialists argued that ending capitalism and socialising care and education would release women from both wage slavery and domestic slavery.

In an blog on The Socialist Origins of International Women’s Day, academic researchers highlighted that Women’s Day promoted a socialist women’s agenda “...not just female suffrage, but labor legislation for working women, social assistance for mothers and children, equal treatment of single mothers, provision of nurseries and kindergartens, distribution of free meals and free educational facilities in schools, and international solidarity.” Women’s Day organisers were opposed to what they called ‘bourgeois feminism’, which aims for equality between the sexes but not an end to capitalism.

In the late 1960s, second-wave feminists adopted International Women’s Day as a day of activism for women’s rights, with events often involving feminists, left-wing activists, women’s groups and labor organisations, calling for such issues as equal pay, political parity, reproductive rights and child care. In 1975, during the International Women's Year, the UN began celebrating 8 March as International Women's Day.

To learn more about the history of International Women's Day see academic Birgitte Søland's article International Women's Day (2019) and the Feminist Studies article, On the Socialist Origins of International Women's Day (1985).

Related resources

To further explore the intersection of gender and social justice including colonisation, racism and poverty see:

Find more information and resources in our related news stories below.

Related media

‘The patriarchy may be pushing back, but so are we’, UN chief tells CSW68, UN News, 13.03.2024

UN chief calls for global action to defend women’s rights amid disturbing trends, UN News, 11.03.2024

International Women’s Day: UN chief launches plan to tackle ‘baked-in bias’, UN News, 08.03.2024

Address - The Rt Hon Dame Cindy Kiro, GNZM, QSO, UN Women Aotearoa NZ Vice Regal Patron, UN Women Aotearoa NZ video, 08.03.2024

Care And Support Workers Deliver Open Letter Signed By 9,100 People Calling For Full And Fair Pay Equity Now, Press Release: PSA, Scoop, 08.03.2024

What are the four waves of feminism? And what comes next?, The Conversation, 08.03.2024

Women at the UN: Everything you need to know about #CSW68, UN News, 07.03.2024

On International Women’s Day, UN Women calls on investing in women as the best solution to face growing crises, UN Women media release, 04.03.2024

Image: Women on the road, 1929, Norway, maker unknown. Te Papa (A.015825)

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