International Women's Day 2020

February 20, 2020

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, adopted Zetkin's suggestion with unanimous approval and International Women's Day was born.

The theme for International Women’s Day  2020 is, I am Generation Equality: Realizing Women’s Rights. The theme is aligned with UN Women’s new multigenerational campaign, Generation Equality, which marks the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. Adopted in 1995 at the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, China, the Beijing Platform for Action is recognized as the most progressive roadmap for the empowerment of women and girls, everywhere.

To read more about the 2020 theme 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 and clients, as well as strong role models for all girls and women.


We encourage ONA members, family and friends to join us in celebrating this International Women’s Day. Now is the time to start preparing to attend an IWD event or parade in your area.

Because parades and events allow us to demonstrate our unwavering commitment to human rights before large public audiences, ONA will coordinate and fund registration fees for Locals/Bargaining Units that plan to participate, and where there are more than 40 member participants, an appropriate float/vehicle. Also remember that Locals can apply for political action monies under Policy 26.11 to ONA First Vice-President Cathryn Hoy before the event. Contact your Bargaining Unit President or Local Coordinator for more information.

If you are looking for an event in your community, the International Women’s Day website features a searchable online calendar that includes events taking place around the world. Click here to search for an IWD event in your community.

If you or your Local will be participating in International Women’s Day activities in your community, let us know by emailing and we will post the details here for other ONA members. We also invite you to submit any photos from your event – be sure to include the names and Local number with your submission.

Toronto International Women's Day March and Rally: On Sunday, March 8, Region 3 Vice-President DJ Sanderson will lead a group of ONA members and staff from the ONA Office (85 Grenville Street) at 10:30 a.m. to OISE on Bloor St. There will be performances and speeches from 11-1 followed by a march to Ryerson for the IWD fair at 2 p.m.


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.

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.


We have prepared English and French versions of our International Women's Day poster. Below you will find two versions of the poster: a generic poster (PDF) and one with a blank space at the bottom (Word) which Locals can customize with their own message and/or event details. Click on the document name below and download the PDF or Word document of your choosing.

We have also created this shareable image that you can download and post to your social media accounts. Show your support and spread the word!