Words by Divina Blanca

March 8 marks the 104th annual International Women’s Day. It’s a day to commemorate the achievements of women past and present, and to acknowledge that society still has a long road ahead in its ongoing fight for gender equality. It’s for the social, political, economical, and cultural equality of the genders all over the world.


With the rising trend of the unfortunate hashtag ‘#womenagainstfeminism’and because Australia’s Minister for Women is Tony Abbott, it’s only right that we revisit why International Women’s Day is so significant and how we can all get involved and make a difference.


Women can vote (except in Saudi Arabia and Vatican City), women can wear pants (except in some Islamic countries), and women can have careers (79 countries restrict the work women can do, and in 15 countries husbands can stop their wives from working). We’ve come a long way in the past century so it’s very easy to be fooled into believing that women’s fight for equality is over. The simple truth is — it’s not.


When Jennifer Lawrence is paid less than her male costars, when trans women struggle to safely use a bathroom, when Boko Haram dares to kidnap 200 girls for receiving an education, we know the war is not over.


Women may now make up more than half of the Queensland Cabinet and the number of women in the Federal Cabinet may have doubled to two, but there’s still a significant gap in gender equality in the workforce. The average Australian woman employed on a full-time basis will earn 18.8 per cent less than their male counterparts and a female graduate will earn on average $5000 less than a male graduate receiving the same degree. When half of the world’s population is women, it’s hard to fathom why only 17.3 per cent of CEO positions and 26.1 per cent of key management personnel are occupied by women.


This year’s International Women’s Day theme is ‘Make it Happen’, encouraging women everywhere to take effective action towards equality between all genders.


The UN is hosting an International Women’s Day Breakfast event at the Australian Technology Park. For those of us who are interested in getting involved but don’t have $82 to spare, here are some things you can do in Sydney:


Take effective action by raising awareness online about the issues that effect women everywhere. Tweet and post on Facebook and Tumblr the issues that affect you personally or you’re passionate about.


You could even host a fundraising event celebrating women across the world while promoting gender equality within your immediate circle.


Sydney’s International Women’s Day March will take place on March 14 at Sydney’s Town Hall, 483 George St. It’s a march for the solidarity for women, with women. This year’s march focuses on the current NSW Government’s cuts to women’s only refuges across the state, and a rejection of Zoe’s Law.


Before the current cuts were introduced, 50 per cent of women were refused from these refuges due to a lack of funding. Tragically, these cuts have seen women’s only refuge’s dwindle from 100 in 2014 to only 14 currently, leaving even more women without a safe place. Although Zoe’s Law lapsed in 2014, we are expecting the attempted reintroduction of the bill in 2015.


No matter what you choose to do for International Women’s Day, undoubtedly what’s most important is to celebrate, support, and inspire women every single day of the year.


And remember to #MakeItHappen.


Feature Image via International Women’s Day