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International Women's Day 2016

The 8th of March marks International Women's Day, a global event which is celebrated annually to raise awareness of matters concerning female rights and gender equality. From its origins as a socialist political event, International Women's Day, or IWD for short, has become more of a general celebration of women, recognising and honouring the contributions women have made to the fields of politics and the economy as well as the numerous social achievements women across the world have been responsible for.

International Women's Day tends to have a different theme each year with different organisations hosting events concurrent with this. This year, the financial firm Ernst and Young are promoting a campaign theme of gender parity with the #PledgeForParity hashtag on Twitter. As well as asking the general public to social share their support, the organisation are also seeking pledges from global leaders with respect to an enhanced focus on gender parity in contemporary society. The United Nations also promote their own social initiatives for International Women's Day - this year they are running with the theme of "Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step It Up for Gender Equality."

As well as political themes promoted by E & Y and the United Nations, International Women's Day is also observed as an official holiday in almost 30 countries around the world, from Afghanistan to Zambia. There are also many other countries where the day is not an official public holiday but is still widely observed all the same. Customs include sending flowers for International Women's Day, a tradition which is especially popular in eastern Europe. Women often receive gifts from their employers on this day as well, whilst female schoolteachers can expect to receive gifts from pupils. In fact, in many countries nowadays International Women's Day is seen as being similar to Mother's Day with gifts such as flowers and chocolates being bestowed upon mothers and grandmothers.

Other traditions include "women-only" dinners and parties such as those which take place in Portugal. The day is also appropriated by many feminist movements around the world who hold demonstrations in major cities to highlight the ongoing struggle for women to receive equal treatment in all aspects of society.

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