International Women's Day draws attention to women's rights worldwide to work, vote, be trained, hold public office, and be free of discrimination. First celebrated on March 19, 1911, by more than one million women and men in Austria, Denmark, Germany, and Switzerland, it has grown to be a worldwide event.

In recent years, there have been signficant advances in women's emancipation and equality, but we still have far to go as long as women are victims of violence, denied equal opportunity in education and healthcare, under-represented in business and politics, and paid less than their male counterparts. By naming this day, we honor strides that have been made and look towards a future that's more promising, safe, and rewarding for girls and women. We remember that, as political activist and writer Emma Goldman reminded us long ago, "a true conception of the relation of the sexes will not admit of conqueror and conquered; it knows of but one great thing: to give of one's self boundlessly, in order to find one's self richer, deeper, better."


  • "Women learned better than most of their male peers that you either share or you self-destruct. And because they were not powerful enough to create change by force or by edict, they mastered arts of negotiation in resolving conflict, skills of cooperation, co-responsibility, caretaking, and compromise. These human arts have taught women how to survive through solidarity and cooperation rather than antagonism and competition. This is the wisdom that the world has need of now."
    — Madonna Kolbenschlag in Eastward Toward Eve
  • "I think that women who were part of the women's movement and now are of crone age, with a mind and a heart not fully employed, may be realizing that they are waiting for an assignment. Idealistic, altruistic, passionate young women are also feeling and responding to the call to activism. For women of any age, an assignment presents itself as an invitation. Your assignment is what you feel it is. It may be an opportunity that you realize is meant for you. It may come to you as an inspiration or urge. The women's movement that changed the world for American women and rippled out to influence the world was the sum of individual women doing whatever they were moved to do, once they became aware of inequality and injustice. The vessel that supported them through their changes and those they brought into the world was their women's group. I believe that the thought that women together can change the world is emerging into the minds and hearts of many of us, and that the vessel for personal and planetary evolution is the circle with a spiritual center."
    — Jean Shinoda Bolen in Urgent Message from Mother
  • "What are the emerging dreams, visions, myths, or new/old stories that will support the evolutionary process and spiritual needs of humanity as we move into the twenty-first century?
    "If we are here to learn about love and creativity, how can we create a world that works for everyone? What would that take?
    "What are the creative tools, images, and myths we can use to dim the ego, befriend the shadow, and build bridges that unify polarity, opposition, and paradox?
    "What is the healthy feminine? What signals its presence? Its absence? What is the healthy feminine's unshakable and essential function in the world? How can we restore and sustain a Way of Beauty in the world?"
    — Angeles Arrien in The Nine Muses
  • "I have a brain and a uterus, and I use both."
    — Patricia Schroeder in The New York Times
  • "At times I think the truest image of God today is a black inner-city grandmother in the United States or a mother of the disappeared in Argentina or the women who wake up early to make tortillas in refugee camps. They all weep for their children, and in their compassionate tears arises the political action that changes the world. The mothers show us that it is the experience of touching the pain of others that is the key to change."
    — Jim Wallis in The Soul of Politics
  • "I was elected by the women of Ireland, who instead of rocking the cradle, rocked the system."
    — Mary Robinson, news item


This 4.5-minute film, "Break the Chain," was created for the One Billion Rising campaign to stop violence against women. It was produced by Eve Ensler and V-Day, directed by Tony Stroebel, written and produced by Tena Clark with music by Tena Clark and Tim Heintz, and featuring dancer and choreographer Debbie Allen.


  • Bhutto, a powerfully effective documentary on the astonishing life and democratic vision of Pakistan's first female prime minister.
  • Difret, the true story of a landmark case about abduction for marriage in Ethiopia that stands up for the dignity and rights of women everywhere.
  • Erin Brockovich, a rich portrait of a deeply flawed woman who hits high stride by trying to make a difference in the world.
  • Gorillas in the Mist, an inspired performance by Sigourney Weaver as a woman who launches a crusade to save gorillas in Africa.
  • He Named Me Malala, an inspiring documentary about the teenage advocate for girls' education, reconciliation, and peace.
  • Jane’s Journey, an engrossing portrait of the public and private lives of Jane Goodall.
  • Love Crimes of Kabul, a riveting documentary on the plight of young women in Afghanistan prisons for their so-called "moral crimes."
  • Made in Dagenham, the remarkable, funny, and inspiring true story of women fighting for equal pay in a Ford Motor Company in 1968 England.
  • Pray the Devil Back to Hell, the stirring account of Liberian women who as creative and nonviolent activists brought peace to their country in 2003.
  • Raw Faith, a vibrant and timely documentary about a progressive Unitarian Universalist minister and the challenges she faces in her public and private life.
  • Suffragette, an engrossing film about the transformation of a working-class mom into a radical feminist in 1912 England.
  • The Lady, an inspiring portrait of a freedom fighter told through an exquisite love story set amidst violence and repression in Burma.
  • They Killed Sister Dorothy, an engrossing documentary on the life and work of Amazonian activist Sister Dorothy Stang and the trial of those involved in her murder.

Websites & Organizations

The International Women's Day website probes the annual campaign theme, suggests resources and actions, and lists events.