International Women’s Day is held annually on 8 March. It celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women and also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity. The theme for 2017 from the International Women’s Day Team is to #BeBoldForChange: “Call on the masses or call on yourself to help forge a better working world – a more gender inclusive world”.
The Day has been observed since the early 1900’s. The Suffragettes started International Women’s Day, with the first officially named “International Women’s Day” event held in 1911. It is a collective day of global celebration and a call for gender parity. No one government, non-profit organisation, corporation, academic institution, women’s network or media hub is solely responsible for International Women’s Day. Many organisations declare an annual ‘International Women’s Day’ theme that supports their specific agenda or cause, and some of these are adopted more widely than others.
One of the issues often raised on International Women’s Day is the issue of pay. According to a recent Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings publication, in April 2016 the gender pay gap (for median earnings) for full-time employees decreased to 9.4 per cent, from 9.6 per cent in 2015 (see below). This is the lowest since the survey began in 1997, although the gender pay gap has changed relatively little in recent years. When part-time employees are included, the gap decreased from 19.3 per cent in 2015 to 18.1 per cent in 2016, the largest year-on-year drop since 2010. This is also the lowest gender pay gap since the survey began in 1997, when the gap for all employees was 27.5 per cent.
Gender pay gap for median gross hourly earnings (excluding overtime), UK, April 1997 to 2016
Source: Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (Office for National Statistics).