“Celebrate women’s achievements. Raise awareness against bias. Take action for equality” – International Women’s Day.

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought many unique challenges to many, including women. From pressures of home-schooling, loss of jobs and a rise in domestic abuse, the need for International Women’s Day has never been more pressing.

International Women’s Day is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. Held on March 8th every year, International women’s day has been celebrated since the early 1900s.

The worldwide event known as IWD was put in place not only to celebrate women’s achievements but seek gender equality. Since movements such as #MeToo, International Women’s Day began to increase attraction, highlighting its important to businesses, people and charities across the world.

From marches, rallies to conferences, International Women’s Day is usually full of life and colour. But due to the global pandemic, people have had to adapt how they celebrate, bringing a new approach. But despite COVID-19 putting a halt to many things this year, International Women’s Day is still remaining strong.

The theme of international women’s day this year is “Choose To Challenge”. The theme recognises a need to call out gender bias and inequality within society. COVID-19 has heavily impacted the social, economic and political fallout, so the need for this change is greater than ever.

Although face to face interaction is currently limited, with us being in lockdown, you can still celebrate and get involved in International Women’s Day from the comfort of your own home. This year IWD event organisers are asking people to take a photo with their hands held high doing the chose to challenge pose. You are then encouraged to share the image on social media, to help people encourage and forge an inclusive world.

Be sure to check their website and social media channels which will include some featured entries – you can even download the #ChooseToChallenge selfie cards.

In honour of International Women’s Day, many have been fundraising for female-focused charities. You can discover more about the IWD charities on their website and how to get involved.

As we are now no stranger to functioning remotely, a lot of people and charities are hosting digital events – including across Teesside.

Many different organisations across the Tees Valley region have come together virtually to launch an online festival, to encourage and inspire young women about their future career prospects and ambitions.

The festival will include talks and sessions from Teesside University, Assist Women’s Network, Tees Business, Just Williams and Darlington Building Society, aiming to lift the aspirations and ambitions among young females in the North of England.

The festival is taking place today and involves pre-recorded sessions featuring International Women’s Day Ambassadors, in conjunction to live panel discussions on a variety of theme, helping shape the conversation.

You can find the sessions and activities available on Teesside Universities Website – Celebrating inspirational women.

There will also be a launch of a #ChoosetoChallenge competition, where they will be inviting schools and individuals to share goals and challenges creatively through the platforms of poems, videos, pictures, stories, and posters.

International Women’s Day seeks to challenge – “A challenging world is an alert world and from challenge comes change.’ So, together let’s all choose to challenge.