A day of love, power and action: International Women's Day 2022

Photo credit to Delia Giandeini on Unsplash.English translation: "All languages, all countries, always everywhere, for equality".

For well over 100 years now, the 8 March has marked International Women’s Day, a day to celebrate women’s achievements and fight for women’s equality. The observance has its roots in women workers’ demonstrations for shorter hours, better pay and the right to vote. The fact remains that a century on, women still do not have equal rights to their male counterparts. For this reason, we continue to observe International Women’s Day, to shine a light on women, and to demonstrate and protest for equality.

Until equality is achieved and we live in a truly inclusive, equitable and diverse world, International Women’s Day, similar to other observances, like Black History/Futures Month, Environment Days, Mother Language Day, and Remembrance Days, are key in educating and mobilising communities towards this goal.

Further than awareness-raising, education - regardless of gender - is essential in driving equality and forging a better future for all humans and the ecosystem on which we rely. In fact, quality education is one of the most powerful tools for lifting children and adults out of poverty and specifically narrows the gender gap for girls and women. Its impact is felt on every level from individual to international. The PEW Research Center showed that increased education of women contributed to the narrowing of the gender wage gap between 1980 and 2018. Limited educational opportunities for girls cost countries between $15 trillion and $30 trillion in lost lifetime productivity and earnings, according to a 2018 World Bank report.

This importance of empowering girls and women through inclusive, equitable and diverse education, in creating a better world for all ties in with’s core mission and values. We work to embed ethics in higher education, by empowering people, transforming societies with a holistic approach, standing up for integrity, developing competences, and acting sustainably. In fact, our 2021 international conference on Building New Bridges Together focused on finding solutions to the issues of inclusion, equity and diversity in higher education

This morning, on 8 March, India marked International Women’s Day by holding a panel discussion under the topic of “Gender Equality Today for a Sustainable Tomorrow”. Organised in collaboration with the Department of Psychology and Counselling at St. Joseph University, Dimapur, Nagaland, the speakers put this important debate in context with a focus on the status of women today with reference to North-East India. Christine Housel, who gave the keynote address, noted how inspiring it was to see a roomful of young women reflecting and learning on such a day. India: Gender Equality Today for a Sustainable Tomorrow Panel Discussion

Huge steps have of course been made in closing the gender gap over the past 100 years. Women have greater visibility as role models in every aspect of life, from politics to science to the boardroom and elsewhere. We have more legislative rights and more choices than before, the wage gap between men and women has got smaller - but it still exists, and is yet more severe for women of colour. Globally, violence against women, women’s health, and women’s education remain worse than that of men. Again, the situation of indigenous women and girls, and women and girls of colour, is even worse. 

This year, one of the themes for IWD is #BreakTheBias. It calls for all of us to break the bias, whether conscious or unconscious, in our homes, workplaces, schools, colleges, universities and communities to work towards a world that is equitable, inclusive and diverse, and free from stereotypes and discrimination. 

International Women’s Day has been observed in many different ways since its conception. Demonstrations, marches and political rallies, conferences, activities run by national and local governments, corporations and organisations, networking events, theatrical performances, parades and more. In some countries, IWD is similar to Mother’s Day, with small presents given to mothers, grandmothers, wives, friends and colleagues. In others, 8 March is a public holiday - in some, for women only, like in China, Madagascar, and Nepal.

With a view to sharing some insight on what International Women’s Day means to different women around the world, some of the women of have shared their own thoughts, words and actions: Interim Head of Library Anja Andriamasy shares a poem she wrote, in French [English translation on right], inspired by women and by International Women’s Day.

Dans les mains d’un être humain
Il y a l’amour pour son prochain
Qui ne souhaite que s’élever et briller
Dans un avenir sans peur du lendemain

Dans les mains de l’être humain
Il y a la capacité de créer
Et de construire un avenir juste, serein
Et durable pour le monde sans en exclure certains

La femme est un être humain
Avec toutes les qualités et les capacités
Que l’être humain possède par sa bienveillance
Et son courage pour défendre ce qui paraît insignifiant

La femme est l’être humain
Qui voit le monde avec les yeux de l’amour
Pour son prochain et tout ce qui l’entoure
Pour lui rappeler son unité avec la nature

Son courage dans les combats contre les maux dans le monde
Est digne de reconnaissance et de considération
Car dans les mains d’une femme
Il y a la vie et la sagesse pour éclairer les humains à être plus humain


In the hands of a human being
Is love for their neighbour
Who wishes simply to rise and to shine
In a future without fear of tomorrow

In the hands of a human being
Is the ability to create and build
A future that is just, serene and sustainable,
A world without exclusion

The woman is a human being
With all the qualities and capacities
Of the human, through her benevolence
And her courage to defend what may seem insignificant 

The woman is the human being
Who sees the world through the eyes of love
For her neighbour and all that surrounds her
A reminder of her unity with nature

Her courage in fighting the evils in the world
Is worthy of recognition and consideration
For in the hands of a woman
Are the life and wisdom to enlighten humans to be more human


Rajula V., India Regional Programme Executive and organiser of this morning’s panel discussion on the importance of gender equality for a sustainable future, sees IWD as a day of power and pride.

“8 March is International Women’s Day - devoted to celebrating the achievements of women and seeking gender equality. This year's theme being BreakTheBias, which is aimed at imagining a gender equal world and I extend my solidarity and support for breaking the bias for creating a just world for women.  Women's Day means power to me. Yes, women power all over the world and I am proud to be a woman.  In India, whether a women is from the South or North or East or West, women are considered inferior to men and we need to break the bias for a just world for women.”

For María Eugenia Barroso, Regional Programme Executive for Latin America, International Women’s Day is a day to commemorate and a day to fight for equality.

"En América Latina, una región con más de 331 millones de mujeres, el 8 de marzo ha dejado de ser una fecha de festejos, para convertirse en una fecha de conmemoración y lucha. El 8 de marzo representa para estas millones de mujeres la oportunidad de reivindicar los reclamos, los anhelos, batallas ganadas y las que restan por luchar. Desde hace cerca de un lustro, en la región ya no se escucha “feliz día”, sino #NiUnaMenos, #VivasNosQueremos y #YoTambién  (versión latina del “#MeToo”), #8M, entre otros.

América Latina es la región más desigual del planeta, por lo que corregir los desequilibrios y crear sociedades más inclusivas para las mujeres continúa siendo un imperativo. De acuerdo con el informe del Banco Mundial “Mujer, Empresa y el Derecho”, la inclusión de la mujer como empresarias, consumidoras, tomadoras de decisiones y como líderes es clave para el progreso de la región. A pesar de que hubo progresos en los últimos años, existen brechas que llevará décadas eliminarlas. Asimismo, la pandemia del coronavirus ha provocado un retroceso en en este proceso".

"In Latin America, a region with more than 331 million women, March 8 has ceased to be a date of celebration, to become a date of commemoration and fight. March 8 represents the opportunity to vindicate the claims, the desires, the battles won and those that remain to be fought. For nearly five years, in the region, we no longer hear "happy day", but #NiUnaMenos, #VivasNosQueremos and #Yo Tambien (the Latin version of the "#MeToo"), #8M, among others.

Latin America is the most unequal region on the planet, so correcting imbalances and creating more inclusive societies for women is imperative. According to the World Bank report "Women, Business and the Law", including women as businesswomen, consumers, decision-makers and leaders is key to the region's progress. However, although there has been progress in recent years, there are gaps that will take decades to eliminate. Also, the coronavirus pandemic has caused a setback in this process."

For Christine Housel, of Donor Relations and Strategic Partnerships, International Women’s Day offers a supportive space to develop herself and to support other women in their development and flourishing.

"My own experience of International Women’s Day began when I led delegations of young women (with some men) to the UN Commission on the Status of Women, which falls in the same timeframe. Being together in spaces of mostly women was a new experience for me. Here I learned new things about the plight and the potential of women in different contexts around the world and new things about how I could contribute to creating a more loving and just space for women to develop, exercise their gifts and experience their full human rights. I found support to grow in using my own voice and develop my leadership, which marked me deeply. Each International Women’s Day my resolve is reinforced to remain active in support of women’s flourishing as well as deepened partnership with men for the flourishing of all."

Lucy Howe López, Deputy Executive Director, reflects on IWD as a day to remember the important women in her life and the love and learning they have shared.

​​"IWD for me is the occasion to remember all those women in our lives who have taught us, cared for us, loved us into being who we are today. I think in particular of those who are role models, my grandmother, my high school English teacher, the neighbour who always invited me in, my aunt who just passed on who found joy in difficult times in tending her garden, my colleagues and my mother who never stopped teaching, who had faith in me."

To me, International Women’s Day is a reminder to be thankful for the actions of those women who have paved the way for me today, a reflection on my privilege and my responsibility in that respect, and a call to take further action towards equality of all human beings. It is also a celebration of the incredible love, support and achievements of all of the women in my life, and a day of hope, that we may see real change in our lifetimes.

Almost two-thirds of the world’s 775 million illiterate adults are women. Girls in most of Afghanistan have not been allowed back to school beyond grade 7 since the Taliban takeover in August 2021. Empowering women through education and creating an ethical education ecosystem is key to forging gender equality and forging a better, safer, more inclusive world for all. So our work continues at, and so the observance of International Women’s Day continues, until we achieve our mission.

With huge thanks to the team for sharing your perspectives and for your ongoing support not just today but always.

Josie Hough Communications & Project Assistant

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