At star-studded luncheons, raucous protests, entrepreneurial tech fests, and at least one tea party, people gathered across the world to celebrate International Women’s Day on March 8. This year’s theme is #BalanceforBetter — a reference to the need for greater recognition of women’s achievements and a persistent gender gap in pay and leadership.
In New York, celebrities gathered at the United Nations this week for a luncheon celebrating the UN Women for Peace Association. The glamorous affair honored women such as filmmaker Leslee Udwin and fashion designer Naeem Khan, and played host to a number of television actors including Mozhan Marnò, AnnaLynne McCord, Kat Graham and Michelle Hurd. By the end of the luncheon, nearly half a million dollars had been raised for the UN’s program for at-risk women. A more low-key affair filled with flowers and messages of inspiration was held in Washington Square Park.
There was star power in London, too, where the Women of the World festival featured panels from famous activists and authors such as Angela Davis, Naomi Klein, and the leader of the #SAGGYBOOBSMATTER movement, Chidera Eggerue, who is also known as The Slumflower.
An array of events celebrated women workers and entrepreneurs. Atlanta held an International Women’s Day Tea Party for small business owners, and Minneapolis celebrated with a FeMNist day that featured a breakfast event, workshops, and a night market made up exclusively of women-owned businesses. In Europe, Amsterdam hosted a “Youth Tech Fest” to teach teenage girls how to code.
But in many places, spirited protests and rallies were among the highest-profile events. In Ireland, women participated in mass walkouts at 3 p.m. to protest the gender pay gap, violence against women, and restrictions on reproductive rights. In France, women left work at 3:40 p.m. to represent the number of hours women effectively work for free as a result of a 26 percent gender pay gap. In Italy, the “Non Una di Meno” movement led strikes across the country to protest “the patriarchal and racist violence of neoliberal society.” And in Spain, a year after more than 5 million Spanish women went on strike, two of the country’s most powerful unions again worked together to lead the nation’s women in a 24-hour general strike.