International Women’s Day 2018

By Julie Griffiths on 08 March 2018 RCM Northern Ireland

Celebrations and protests are taking place around the globe today to celebrate International Women’s Day (IWD) 2018.  

The day, which is now an UN-recognised annual event, is particularly notable this year because of several high-profile campaigns against sexual harassment and discrimination against women, such as #MeToo and #TimesUp.

The theme this year is #PressforProgress, which aims to motivate and unite friends, colleagues and whole communities to think, act and be gender inclusive.

Women workers in Spain are marking the day with an unprecedented strike targeting gender inequality and sexual discrimination. The action has been backed by 10 unions and some of Spain's top women politicians.

Amnesty International is celebrating by launching its Suffragette Spirit Map to celebrate the work being carried out by women in their communities 100 years on from first winning the vote. 

The RCM’s director for Northern Ireland Breedagh Hughes has been nominated as one of Amnesty International's Suffragette Sprirts for her work campaigning for improved employment conditions for RCM members and for women to have maternity care and reproductive healthcare choices and the right to live free from the threat of domestic violence.

Helen Pankhurst, great-granddaughter of Emmeline Pankhurst and granddaughter of Sylvia Pankhurst who founded the Suffragette movement, said there was no better time to launch such a map. 

‘I imagine if the suffrage campaigners of old, including my great-grandmother Emmeline and grandmother Sylvia, could see Amnesty’s map, they would be extraordinarily moved,’ she said. 

‘Because while together they helped set a precedent for women taking action, I doubt they would have known what their irrepressible drive and attitude would resonate 100 years later – and give visibility to women who are standing up and promoting human rights in such a varied and all-encompassing way.’ 

IWD has been celebrated for more than a century. Its origins date back to 1908 when 15,000 women marched through New York City demanding shorter working hours, better pay and the right to vote. 

In 1909, the Socialist Party of America declared the first National Woman's Day and in 1911 the first international day was celebrated in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland.