Here's This Year's International Women's Day Theme — And The Meaning Behind It

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In a world where gender equality and mutual respect appear to have taken several steps in the wrong direction and a backseat in the political sphere, what can it mean to "Press for Progress"? March 8, is the annual celebration of International Women's Day, a holiday which commemorates the women's rights movement. First recognized by the suffragettes in 1911, International Women's Day annually picks a theme, with the hopes of bringing awareness to a certain issue. In the past these themes have included #BeBoldForChange, which encouraged influencers to acknowledge what they can do to help create a more gender inclusive world, and #PledgeforParity, a commitment to helping women worldwide to achieve their goals. This year's theme has picked up the momentum off of viral movements such as #MeToo and #TimesUp, and encourages us to #PressforProgress, aka join together in pushing global attention towards achieving the ultimate goal of gender equality.

The Gender Gap

According to a recent report by the World Economic Forum's 2017 Global Gender Gap Report, the gender gap will most likely take over 200 years to close — 217 years, to be exact. Shocked, but not discouraged, by this new information, the International Women's Day organization decided to use their platform to inspire advocacy on a global scale. They believe that it only takes one individual to bring together friends, and challenge their colleagues and communities, to be practice parity and be more inclusive. As their mission statement says, "We can't be complacent." Now, more than ever, it is so vitally important that we come together collectively to accelerate the towards gender parity timeline.

A Historical Responsibility

The organization states that shared responsibility is what will make this year's International Women's Say a successful one. The fight for gender equality does not belong to a single feminist, but rather, the result of a hive-like mentality. The holiday belongs to all forms of institutions, from governments to dinner table conversations — it is not only a chance to recognize and appreciate the strong women in your life, but also to help further the dialogue around gender parity.

How Does It Work?

Visit the International Women's Day website and click the "Press For Progress" button. You will then be prompted to choose your action, which allows each participant to select a certain sphere in which they will focus their particular influence. After registering your country, gender, and email, the site connects you to resources specific to your cause that will help you further in your mission. You'll also join a network of others who have pressed to socially share their support and take action. Additionally, the organization encourages you to send in and post your own Press For Progress pictures, as a sign of solidarity and a token of your commitment to gender equality.

So this International Women's Day, take a moment to thank your friends, mothers, sisters, co-workers and more for all that they do to make the world a little bit better, every single — but then take it one step further. Continue the conversation and find out what you can do to press for progress and practice gender parity in your own daily life. Pledge your support, call out gender-based bias, challenge convention, and encourage the ambition and creativity of men and women equally. Above all, do not fear collaboration.

As trail-blazing women's rights activist Gloria Steinem once said, and the International Women's Day organization proudly quotes, "The story of women's struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organization but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights."