International Women’s Day (IWD) is being celebrated around the world on Monday 8 March, as people come together to champion the advancement of women’s rights and gender equality.
While the day itself carries the clear theme of female empowerment across the world, the way it’s acknowledged and celebrated differs from country to country.
Some companies offer women a half-day off work, for example, while others celebrate by giving one another flowers.
Read on to see how International Women’s Day celebrations vary across the globe.
In the US, the whole of March is Women’s History Month.
This has been an ongoing celebration since February 1980 when President Jimmy Carter declared the week of 8 March as National Women’s History Week.
Within a few years, thousands of schools across the country had embraced the week as a means of achieving equality in the classroom, something that was spearheaded by the National Women’s History Alliance. It was also supported by city councils and governors, who ran events and special programmes to champion female empowerment.
The celebrations evolved and by 1986, 14 states had extended the celebrations to last for the duration of March.
Now, every year an official statement of recognition is issued by the President, known as a Presidential Proclamation, on IWD to honour the achievements of American women.
In Italy, International Women’s Day is called La Festa della Donna.
It’s celebrated primarily by the giving of bright yellow mimosa blossom flowers. On the day itself, bouquets of the sunshine-hued blooms are sold on almost every street corner in Italy, the idea being that people honour the women in their lives by giving them these flowers, which are viewed as a symbol of female strength and sensibility.
This floral theme also manifests in confectionery form, with some Italians choosing to celebrate IWD by making a special cake designed to resemble small blooms of the mimosa flower. Traditionally, this is a sponge cake made with citrus liqueur and topped with cream and cubes of pastry to mimic the shape of the flower.