Every year on March 8th, women around the world come together to celebrate women’s social, economic, cultural and political achievements. International Women’s Day is an opportunity to stand in solidarity with all those fearless women standing up for gender equality and spotlight those who often pass unnoticed.
This year’s campaign theme—#BalanceforBetter—represents how, from grassroots activism to worldwide action, we are entering an exciting period of history where the world expects balance. Balance drives a better working world, and the better the balance, the better the world. “We notice its absence and celebrate its presence. Let’s all help create a #BalanceforBetter.”
The 2019 #BalanceforBetter campaign does not start or end on International Women’s Day—it runs all year long. Its theme provides a unified direction to guide and galvanize continuous collective action, with #BalanceforBetter activity reinforced and amplified all year.
Ethiopia’s First Woman President
Sahle-Work Zewde’s election as president of Ethiopia is a landmark in many respects. It is the first time in Ethiopia’s history that a woman is assuming this elected high office, a new milestone in Ethiopia’s trajectory towards women’s empowerment and effective participation in political decision-making. She is also Africa’s only serving head of state.
Brazil’s New Agriculture Minister
Tereza Cristina, head of Brazil’s farmer’s caucus in the lower house, was named by President Jair Bolsonaro as agriculture minister. She is the first female cabinet member the president-elect has appointed and the second to hold the position, after Kátia Abreu.
First Female Mayor of Tunisia
After 160 years, and 32 mayors, the North African capital of Tunisia has elected its first-ever female mayor. Souad Abderrahim a self-made businesswoman said in an interview after being elected, “I am only one among many women who have struggled for years for equality.”
Haifa’s First Woman Mayor
This past fall Einat Kalisch-Rotem made history as the first woman to become mayor in Haifa, one of Israel’s three largest cities. Kalisch-Rotem ran on an independent list with the “Living in Haifa” faction against the incumbent mayor, Yona Yahav, whom she defeated with 55 percent of the vote.
Japan’s First Female Fighter Pilot
1st Lt. Misa Matsuhima made history this past summer when she became the first woman to qualify as a fighter jet pilot in Japan’s Air Self-Defense Force (ASDF). “My longtime dream has come true. I want to become a fully-fledged pilot, no different from men, as soon as possible,” she said after a ceremony at an ASDF base.
Women Joining Front Lines in the British Army
Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson announced that all roles in the military are now open to women. Lance Corporal Kat Dixon from Swindon, is one of the first to serve in a frontline role as a tank gunner in the British Army.
First Woman Wins Clipper Round-the-World Yacht Race
Wendy Tuck from Australia made history this past summer when she became the first female skipper to win the Clipper Round-the-World Yacht Race. Tuck told the Australian Daily Telegraph, “I hate banging on about women. I just do what I do but I am very proud.”