International Days of Significance

The Office for Women is responsible for coordinating the Australian Government’s recognition of a number of international days of significance including the attendance by the Minister for Women at related events.

  • International Women's Day - March 8 is International Women’s Day (IWD), a global day celebrating the economic, political and social achievements of women. This day acknowledges past struggles and accomplishments to look ahead to the untapped potential of future generations of women.
  • International Day of the Girl Child - Since 2012, the United Nations has marked 11 October as the ‘International Day of the Girl Child’. The day promotes girls' human rights, highlights gender inequalities that remain between girls and boys and addresses the various forms of discrimination and abuse suffered by girls around the world.
  • White Ribbon Day - November 25th marks White Ribbon Day. White Ribbon is a national campaign to end men's violence against women.

International Women’s Day

International Women's Day (IWD) is celebrated in many countries around the world. It is a day when women are recognised for their achievements without regard to divisions, whether national, ethnic, linguistic, cultural, economic or political. It is an occasion for looking back on past struggles and accomplishments, and more importantly, for looking ahead to the untapped potential and opportunities that await future generations of women.

This year’s International Women’s Day (IWD) theme #MorePowerfulTogether recognises the important role we all play in advancing gender equality. It takes all of us, working in collaboration and across that which sometimes divides us, to break down stereotypes and gendered roles to create a world where women and girls everywhere have equal rights and opportunities.

The Australian National Committee for UN Women hosts a number of events throughout the country and  is the main link between Australian and global celebrations.

History of International Women’s Day

In 1910, Clara Zetkin, the leader of the Women’s Office for the Social Democratic Party in Germany tabled the idea of an International Women’s Day (IWD) at the second International Conference of Working Women in Copenhagen.

The very first IWD was held the following year on March 19. Meetings and protests were held across Europe with the largest street demonstration attracting 30,000 women. In 1913, IWD was transferred to March 8 and has been held on this day ever since.

Over time, IWD has become a day to reflect on progress, to call for change and to celebrate the courage and determination of the women who changed history.

IWD is an occasion to review how far women have come in their struggle for equality, peace and development. It is also an opportunity to unite, network and mobilise for meaningful change.

In 1975, during International Women's Year, the United Nations began celebrating IWD on 8 March. Two years later, in December 1977, the General Assembly adopted a resolution proclaiming a United Nations Day for Women's Rights and International Peace to be observed on any day of the year by Member States, in accordance with their historical and national traditions. In adopting its resolution, the General Assembly recognised the role of women in peace efforts and development and urged an end to discrimination and an increase of support for women's full and equal participation.

International Day of the Girl Child

On 19th December 2011, the United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution 66/170, which declared 11th October as the International Day of the Girl Child. It seeks to recognise the rights, unique challenges and poignant issues affecting young girls around the world.

The theme for the  2017 International Day of the Girl Child was “ EmPOWER girls: Before, during and after conflict”

On International Day of the Girl Child, former Minister for Women, Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash reinforced Australia’s commitment to the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals and highlighted women’s economic and social security.

‘Today is a chance to reflect on the future we are building for our young women. The International Day of the Girl Child recognises endemic issues which prevent young women and girls around the world from living lives of equal opportunity,” Minister Cash said.

Minister Cash also went on to discuss the ongoing importance of increasing girls’ participation and interest in STEM education and training to set them up for the jobs of tomorrow.

“I want Australian girls to dream big about their future role in the world. I know that women are still under-represented in many areas of science, technology, engineering and maths,” Minister Cash said.

“We need to harness the full potential of our girls, in order to reach our potential as a country, which is why the Government is focused on supporting women and girls into STEM-based education and careers.”

We coordinate the attendance at events celebrating the International Day of the Girl Child on behalf of the Prime Minister and the Minister for Women. If you have a community event you would like support for, email

White Ribbon Day

In 1999, the United Nations General Assembly declared 25 November as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.

Australia first marked White Ribbon Day in 2003.

The white ribbon is now an international symbol raising awareness of eliminating violence against women.

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