Press release: Commemoration of International Women’s Day will celebrate individuals and activists who are finding innovative ways to advance gender equality


International Women's Day is commemorated at United Nations Headquarters in New York. Photo: UN Women/Ryan Brown
International Women's Day is commemorated at United Nations Headquarters in New York. Photo: UN Women/Ryan Brown

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(New York, 7 March)— With technology and innovation playing an integral role in our everyday lives, it is not easy to imagine development in the 21st century without it. This year’s theme for International Women’s Day (8 March), Think Equal, Build Smart, Innovate for Change”, explores the ways in which innovation can work for gender equality, boost investment in gender-responsive social systems, and enhance public services and infrastructure that meet the needs of women and girls.

“Innovation is shaping and changing the way people live in every part of the world, so we have to be intentional about its use to positively impact the lives of women and girls”, said UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka. “It’s a key component of development, a basic need for those living in poverty, and a far-reaching enabler of rights. Women and girls must have opportunities to contribute to both the design and execution of solutions affecting their lives— and they are more than ready to do so.”

While a little more than a decade remain to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, including  Goal 5 on gender equality, all indications show that at the current pace of change, closing the global gender gap will take a staggering 108 years, and 202 years for economic gender parity.

According to research:

  • 740 million women currently make their living in the informal economy with limited access to social protection, public services and infrastructure that could increase their productivity and income security.
  • Women do 2.6 times more unpaid care and domestic work than men, with only 41 per cent of the world’s mothers with newborns receiving maternity benefits.
  • One in three women are likely to face violence in their lifetimes, yet public services, urban planning and transport systems are rarely planned with women’s safety and mobility in mind. 

To meet the needs of women and those most marginalized at the bottom of the pyramid, public services, infrastructure and social protection require innovative approaches to increase the quality and affordability for women users, respond to constraints that women face in accessing those services, due to the heavier load they carry in household duties and unpaid care work,  and ensure that women can easily obtain the information and resources they need to take advantage of the opportunities offered by new technologies. Women and girls must also have a voice in how innovations are shaped, so that they can truly benefit and contribute to real change.

UN Women’s International Women’s Day 2019 Global Commemoration Events

  • UN Commemoration Event, UN Headquarters, New York: Prominent social and technology innovators, such as veteran Astronaut Ellen Ochoa; Google Chief Marketing Officer Lorraine Twohill; Build Change Founder Elizabeth Hausler, and young South African scientist and innovator Kiara Nirghin, will join the United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres; President of the UN General Assembly María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés; Chair of the 63rd Session of the Commission on the Status of Women Geraldine Byrne Nason; UN Under-Secretary-General and UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, and Secretary-General of Rehabilitation International, Venus Ilagan.

    The event will showcase women’s role and experiences working from the very inception of technology and innovations and identify ways in which the UN system and partners can accelerateactions to guarantee that no woman or girl is left behind, regardless of where she lives, how much she earns, or where she comes from.

  • Featured multimedia storytelling campaigns: As part of the event, Google is premiering the trailer of a new four-part virtual reality series about women’s rights activists around the world. The four films, produced by Google in collaboration with UN Women, are set to debut on International Women’s Day, both online and in a multimedia exhibit at the UN headquarters. Marking the International Day, in another partnership with global communications company WPP and Amazon’s Alexa, UN Women is amplifying the Unheard Stories  grass-roots leaders and their incredible work. To increase the visibility and recognition of women trailblazers, a new social media campaign from UN Women is issuing challenges, from finding a woman on your currency to sharing a street named after a woman in your town. Follow @UN_Women to take the daily challenges and use #WomensDay.
  • She Innovates Global Programme, New York: UN Women in partnership with the Global Innovation Coalition for Change will launch on 8 March the She Innovates Global Programme. The programme supports women in innovation by providing access to development tools and resources, as well as connecting innovators worldwide.
  • Ring the Bell for Gender Equality, Around the World: From Chile to Croatia, and Tanzania to Tunisia, over 70 stock exchanges will host for the fifth consecutive year bell-ringing ceremonies to raise awareness of the pivotal role that business and markets can play in advancing gender equality. In support of UN Women and as a proud signatory of the Women’s Empowerment Principles, in New York, NASDAQ closing bell will be preceded by a and event with UN Women Deputy Executive Director Åsa Regnér, on innovation and gender equality.
  • UN Women and Media Reception: Celebrating Gender Equality in Media, New York: UN Women celebrates leading journalists and global media outlets that have been stepping up to tell powerful gender-sensitive stories; ultimately, helping to change the narrative around the real, pervasive issue of sexual harassment, violence and abuse against women and girls whose voices have been silenced, stigmatized and shamed for far too long.
  • Commemoration events around the world: International Women’s Day globally will include rallies, marches, film festivals, “TED”-style talks, social media activations and events that leverage science, technology, coding and e-commerce.  UN Women offices will join the commemorations through a variety of events, including mentorship events with young girls in Rwanda, a film festival in Albania, panel discussions in Hong Kong, photo exhibitions in Nepal and Barbados, and a parade and concert in Sierra Leone, among many more.

Join the online conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #WomensDay and following @UN_Women.

Download the social media package here, and for more news, assets and stories, visit UN Women’s editorial, In Focus: International Women’s Day.