The World Celebrates International Women’s Day

Friday 13th February 2015

GBA Newsletter

International Women’s Day dates back to 1910, when the second International Conference of Working Women was held in Copenhagen, Denmark. According to the official IWD website, the leader of the Women’s Office for the Social Democratic Party of Germany, Clara Zetkin, introduced the idea that every country around the world should take one day each year to advocate for and celebrate women. The conference unanimously approved Zetkin’s proposal, and International Women’s Day was born.

International Women's Day

More than 1 million people attended the first IWD rallies in 1911, which were held March 19 in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland. The official date for IWD was moved to March 8 shortly thereafter, in honor of the first day of a 1917 strike by Russian women in response to the death of over 2 million Russian soldiers in war.

Over the next century, support for IWD would spread to more and more countries, until it achieved the wide recognition it enjoys today. International Women’s Day is an official holiday in Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, China, Cuba, Georgia, Guinea-Bissau, Eritrea, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Madagascar, Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Nepal, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Vietnam and Zambia.

Each year on March 8, women’s organizations, governments and companies all over the world hold thousands of events both large and small to honor women’s advancement and remember the ground that is yet to be covered. This year is no exception, with participants from Albania to the United States celebrating the power of women with the theme “Make it Happen.” Below is a sampling of some of the ways GBA members and key international bodies are marking the day this year:

Itaú Unibanco Business Roundtable

Brazil’s Itaú Unibanco will be hosting a special business roundtable encouraging women entrepreneurs and large companies to network. The event is being held in honor of International Women’s Day.

Garanti Hosts UN Panel

In partnership with the Women Entrepreneurs Association of Turkey KAGIDER, GBA member Garanti Bankasi is hosting a panel titled “Women and Economy: How to Motivate and Empower Women Through Entrepreneurship in Turkey.” The panel is being held in parallel with the UN 59th Commission on the Status of Women in New York, March 10. GBA CEO Inez Murray will speak on this panel.

UT Ghana Launches “Heart to Heart” Series

UT Ghana’s Women’s Market sub-brand, Akoma, is organizing a series called “Heart to Heart” in the month of March, intended to help women make informed decisions about every area of their lives. The series will engage women on questions like:

  • Should you open an account with your spouse?
  • Are you ready for retirement?
  • Have you written your will?

Akoma community members are encouraged to join the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #startaconversation, or visit for more information.

Chase Bank Kenya Hosts Women Entrepreneurs Dinner

To celebrate women and their achievements, Chase Bank Kenya is sponsoring a Women Entrepreneurs Dinner in partnership with the Federation of Women Entrepreneurs Association and New Faces, New Voices on March 5. NFNV founder Graça Machel will deliver the keynote address at the event. In addition, the bank is hosting a staff cocktail for Chase employees Feb. 28.


Scotiabank Sponsors International Women’s Day Website

Alliance member Scotiabank is serving as an official sponsor of the IWD nonprofit website, bringing women around the world news, information and IWD activity updates.

Access Bank Plans Internal, Public IWD Events

Nigeria’s Access Bank Plc is hosting several events during the week leading up to International Women’s Day. March 5, Access will commemorate IWD with a panel on “Women as Civic, Corporate and Political Leaders” that will also seek to reach at least 500,000 people via Twitter. Access Bank is the lead sponsor of the event, whileÊThe US Consulate in Lagos is the lead collaborator. The following day, the “Empowering Women with Technology” roundtable will occur, and later in day the bank will host a closing bell ceremony to help raise awareness for women’s economic empowerment, in conjunction with the UN Global Compact and the Nigerian Stock Exchange. Saturday, March 7, Access is participating in the IWD March-in-March walk, bringing together 1,000 women leaders to raise awareness about economic empowerment. Finally, March 11, the bank will host a Corporate Gender Balance Workshop, seeking to inspire men to support women and be a catalyst for gender equality.

Westpac Celebrates IWD with Roundtable and Research

Westpac is acknowledging International Women’s Day this year with a roundtable featuring the bank’s new CEO, Brian Hartzer. The bank will also host a lunch for its high-performing female staff, and is planning to release some new research on the Women’s Market.

The White House Celebration of International Girls’ Education

In honor of International Women’s Day, President Barack Obama is hosting an International Girls’ Education Celebration at the White House March 3. GBA Chief Executive Inez Murray will attend the event on behalf of the Alliance.

Launch of the No Ceilings Full Participation Report

The launch of the No Ceilings Full Participation Report will be held March 9 to commemorate IWD. The report, made up of data collected from more than 190 countries over the last 20 years, will highlight the gains women and girls have made since the 1995 U.N. Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing and the gaps that remain on the road to full economic, social and political participation of women and girls. The report will include progress made on financial inclusion and will be launched by Hillary Clinton, Chelsea Clinton and Melinda Gates. In the spirit of International Women’s Day, this event will bring together those working toward progress — including representatives from GBA members — to share their experiences, challenges and successes in making full participation a reality for women and girls. GBA’s CEO will be representing the Alliance at the event.

Commission on the Status of Women

The 59th session of the Commission on the Status of Women will take place at United Nations Headquarters in New York, kicking off March 9 and lasting through March 20. Representatives of Member States, UN entities and ECOSOC-accredited NGOs from all regions will attend.

UN Global Compact

UN Women and the UN Global Compact will bring together leaders from business, government, civil society and the United Nations in New York on March 10 and 11for an exchange on the essential role that business can and must play to realize gender equality and achieve sustainable development.

You can follow @womensday on Twitter for updates. To participate in IWD via social media, use the hashtags #MakeItHappen, #PaintItPurple, #WomensDay and #IWD2015.