Skip to main content

Sarah Brady | March 14, 2017

March 8 marked International Women’s Day (IWD), a celebration of women’s achievements, a commemoration of the struggle for women’s rights and a call to action for gender equity.
Women have been participating in IWD since the early 1900s, when protesters marched in New York City to demand equal working conditions and voting rights. IWD was officially recognized and celebrated for the first time by the United Nations in 1975. Since then, it’s grown into a global phenomenon of celebration, remembrance and activism.


This year, here’s how a few countries participated in IWD:

In Afghanistan, Reporters Without Borders opened the first center for the protection of female journalists on the eve of IWD. More information here.

In Brazil, women farmers protested in front of government buildings, raising awareness of policies that disproportionately affect rural women and campaigning for better access to healthcare. Also in Brazil, the Cruzeiro football club wore jerseys to their March 8 game that had statistics showing the violence and inequality that women face—like that women’s salaries are 30 percent lower than men’s, and that every 11 minutes a woman is hit by an abuser. More information here.

The United Nations and the African Union released a joint report on women’s rights on the eve of IWD, available here. It shows the progress that has been made in many African countries—such as Guinea, which now legally recognizes equality between men and women; Sierra Leone, which has removed discrimination against women from its Constitution; and RwandaSenegal and South Africa, which all rank in the top 10 in the world in female participation in political legislation—and highlights the work that still needs to be done across the continent.

Iceland’s government announced the Equal Pay Standard, which requires companies with 25 or more employees to prove that they pay employees the same regardless of gender. This came after protests in October 2016 when women went on strike at 2:38pm (after which women would essentially be working without pay, due to the gender wage gap). The Equal Pay Standard is expected to be implemented by the 2020s. More information here.

All over Italy on IWD, women received free entry to museums and cultural sites, many of which will have exhibits by and about women. More information here. Women also marched in demonstrations throughout Italy to protest violence and discrimination.

In Istanbul, Turkey, IWD plans were cancelled due to security concerns, but hundreds of women showed up to protest domestic violence, which is 10 times more likely to occur in Turkey than in other European countries. More information here.

Women marched and participated in strikes all over the world. In Australia, educators protested pay inequality by going on strike and rallying outside local government. In India, women marched in New Delhi to protest violence against women. In Poland and Ireland, protesters gathered to support reproductive rights. And in the United States and in many other countries, women went on strike as part of “A Day without a Woman,” bringing awareness to gender-based discrimination.


There are many resources to teach gender equality and women’s history—and not just during Women’s History Month, but all year-round.

The National Education Association has resources, activities, tools, quizzes and printables, all sorted by grade level. Find it here.

Scholastic provides teaching resources that are filtered by subject here.

Teaching Tolerance, a project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, has a filter that allows teachers to search for lessons and activities related to gender equity. Lessons include topics like “Girls’ Attitudes about STEM Careers” and “Rediscovering Forgotten Women Writers.” 

TES has an article about resources that educators can use to teach IWD (and more broadly, Women’s History Month)—including inspirational posters, an IWD resource pack and a quiz—that can be found here.

AAUW (The American Association of University Women) gathered seven teacher resources that address gender equality and can be interwoven in year-round curriculum, like how to introduce girls to engineering, and how to fight sexual harassment. Find it here.

And for great photographs of IWD 2017 around the world, check out the New York Times’ article here.