International Women's Day 2021

February 16, 2021

We are proud be part of a growing international movement of advocacy and support for women. We recognize the achievements – and honour the struggles – of all women on International Women’s Day.

In the early 1900s, oppression and inequality were pushing women to become more vocal and active in campaigning for change. At the International Conference of Working Women in Copenhagen in 1910, Clara Zetkin, leader of the Women’s Office for the Social Democratic Party in Germany, tabled the idea of an International Women's Day. She proposed that every year in every country, there should be a celebration on the same day to press for change. The conference of more than 100 women from 17 countries, representing unions, socialist parties and working women’s clubs,  and International Women's Day was born.

The theme for International Women’s Day 2021 is Choose to Challenge. This theme celebrates the tremendous efforts by women and girls around the world in shaping a more equal future. According to the International Women’s Day website, “A challenged world is an alert world and from challenge comes change.”

To read more about the 2021 theme and about International Women’s Day, please click here.

Nurses and health-care workers are leading the way and tackling women’s issues head on, whether they are fighting for pay equity with their male colleagues or trying to end violence and harassment in the workplace. Their knowledge, compassion and determination make them fierce advocates for their patients, residents and clients, as well as strong role models for all girls and women.


Virtual events in your community

If you are looking for a virtual event in your community, the IWD website features a searchable online calendar that includes events taking place around the world. Click here for IWD events in your community.


Rising Above the Pandemic: Fighting For a Just Future For All

Watch Toronto's live-hosted 2021 IWD Rally on Facebook - Saturday March 6, 1pm.

Tune in live or later, no Facebook account required at
Combining the energy of the streets with speakers, music and all the solidarity you need during tough times.
 Event Details:
  • Saturday, March 6, 2021 1:00 PM EST


COVID-19 and Violence Against Women: The Double Pandemic

The Zonta Club of Ottawa, Canada is pleased to host Kaitlin Geiger-Bardswich, Communications & Development Manager of Women’s Shelters Canada, who breaks down the challenges COVID-19 has presented and amplified regarding violence against women.

 Event Details:
  • Mon, March 8, 2021 6:30 PM – 7:30 PM EST
  • Upon registration, the Zoom link will be sent to you via email. Due to virtual event capacity, we ask for your cooperation and encourage you to refrain from sharing the Zoom link with non-registered guests.
  • To allow attendees to get settled, the event room will open at 6:15pm


The Evolution of The Revolution Webcast

The HDLC 2021 IWD celebration promises to be a fun-filled and uplifting occasion featuring inspiring speakers, a musical performance and door prizes. Historically, Labour has celebrated International Women’s Day (IWD) in the Hamilton Region for many years, not only to mark the many accomplishments of women and commemorate their struggles and achievements throughout history, but also to help those women who are presently experiencing domestic violence and hardships.

 Event Details:
  • Wed, March 10, 2021 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM EST


International Women's Day - Materials

International Women's Day - ONA Resources

Learn more about ONA's Human Rights and Equity team and their ongoing work here.

Every ONA member has the right to equal opportunity and full participation in their workplace and in their union. Our Human Rights and Equity Team has prepared answers to frequently asked questions on various topics including harassment in the workplace and accommodating family status in the workplace.

International Women's Day - More Resources

  • Visit the International Women’s Day website for resources and information about campaigns and events around the world.
  • The Department for Women and Gender Equality (previously Status of Women Canada) is a federal government organization dedicated to equality for women and “their full participation in the economic, social and democratic life of Canada.” They cover a wide variety of topics including ending gender-based violence and increasing women’s economic security.
  • Visit Ontario’s Pay Equity Commission website for information about employer obligations around pay equity and other resources.
  • Developed by Canadian historian, Merna Forster, the website, A Guide to Women in Canadian History, is a resource for the commemoration of the role of women in Canadian history. You can learn about women like Rosemary Brown, who was the first Black female member of a provincial legislature and the first woman to run for leadership of a federal political party in Canada.