International Women’s Day

Help us fight for equality and make sure women around the world are not left behind.

3 female school children smiling outside.

International Women’s Day is an annual event celebrating women’s rights and campaigning for gender equality.

It’s a chance to call for change, reflect on the progress made so far and honour the achievements of women around the world.

The day isn’t affiliated with a single group: each year, global governments, businesses, charities and women’s organisations come together to organise worldwide events including marches, talks, rallies and more.

(Main image: ©Sightsavers/USAID/Javier Acebal)

If everyone comes together and works together, anything is possible.
Jahanara, Bangladesh
Jaharana smiling with her son in her arms.

When is International Women’s Day?

International Women’s Day takes place every year on 8 March, which in 2018 falls on a Thursday.

The first ‘Women’s Day’ was held in the US in 1909, organised by the Socialist Party of America following years of unrest, oppression and inequality. Two years later, Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland also joined in. In 1913 it was moved to March 8: it has been celebrated on this date ever since.

Why is the day so important?

It is estimated that one in five women worldwide has a disability, compared with one in eight men. Women are also up to four times more likely to be blinded by the neglected tropical disease trachoma. And of the 36 million people in the world who are blind, 55 per cent are women.

In lower-income countries these differences are even more pronounced. You can help us make sure that women are not left behind by campaigning for inclusion for all.


Meet some of the women we’re working with

Mafoune and her teacher smiling and embracing in front of a classroom blackboard.

Mrs Keita and Mafoune met at an inclusive education project in Mali.

Edith smiles as she stands holding her young son.

Edith has helped 324 young people with disabilities to complete vocational training.

Ajuna Socia, 33 years old, stands outside the Kibwoona Health centre in Masindi, Uganda.

Ajuna volunteers as a medicine distributor in her community.

A group of girls laughing.

In India, a group of blind women are learning judo to help them feel safer on their own in public.

Neema smiling.

Neema makes sure her siblings regularly wash their hands.

Close-up photo of Gertrude Oforiwa Fefoame.

Getty is Ghana's nominee for the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

#PressforProgress in 2018

The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is #PressforProgress, which aims to promote the push for gender equality and inclusivity, and encourage people around the world to continue the vocal fight for equality.

In lower-income countries, women make up three quarters of all people with disabilities. These women often face double, if not triple, discrimination: for having a disability, for being female and for living in poverty.

You can help us to change this: join our Put Us in the Picture campaign and make a fairer world a reality. We’re also calling for an #EqualUN to make sure women are represented at the United Nations.


Stories from our Put Us in the Picture campaign

Harriet sitting using a sewing machine.

Harriet wants to be a role model for other young women with disabilities.


Grace is working towards a career in catering to support her family.

Satata Enterprises.

Satata Enterprises, run by women, challenges perceptions of disability.

Smiling woman, who is a disability rights activist, wearing sunglasses and orange headscarf.

Jahanara leads a disability self-help group in Bangladesh.

Jane smiling as she pays attention in a class environment.

Jane is determined to prove to others she can look after herself.

Anuradha with crossed arms smiling at the camera.

Anuradha advocates for the rights of people with disabilities in India.