International Women’s Day is today. How are you observing it, aside from perhaps noting the Google Doodle set up in its honor?
Maybe you’re signing an online petition seeking gender equality in medical research. Or tweeting using the hashtag "#womensday” to honor women’s progress and to renew commitments to women’s rights. If you’re in Kabul, Afghanistan, you might be making a stop by that city’s first Internet cafe just for women.
International Women’s Day is not nearly as well known in the United States as it is in other parts of the globe; elsewhere, it’s marked by rallies, banners and even a day off.
Many people in Armenia and Mongolia get time away from the job; in China, only women have that luxury.
The United Kingdom has at least 437 events to note the holiday, compared to the 253 events being held Thursday across the United States, according to the official International Women’s Day website.
The most obvious observance to U.S. audiences might be the Google Doodle: The Google.com homepage has been transformed into a floral-meets-spring-colors design that celebrates the international symbol of womankind.
Glenda Stone, the founder of the International Women’s Day website, issued a statement saying involvement on this holiday has “skyrocketed” over the last five years. “This is due to the rise of social media,” she said, which can now connect women from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe via Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, and more. “It would be hard to find any country that did not celebrate the day in some way.”
It’s also a day to celebrate womanhood and motherhood. It’s not uncommon in some parts of the world for men to give women flowers and candies, a la Valentine’s Day or Mother’s Day in the United States.
International Women’s Day representatives want all this celebrating to also highlight the plight of many women around the globe. The International Committee of the Red Cross is using the day to honor the mothers, wives and family left behind in war-torn countries. UN Women is calling for an end to domestic violence and gender equality. And Oxfam International is using the day to focus on Female Food Heroes -- women who fight to end hunger.