International Women's Day 2019

Think Equal, Build Smart, Innovate for Change

Top stories | Events

The theme for International Women’s Day (8 March) this year, “Think Equal, Build Smart, Innovate for Change”, puts innovation by women and girls, for women and girls, at the heart of efforts to achieve gender equality.


Use #WomensDay on social media to stand with the groundbreakers who are building a gender-equal future, and be part of the change. Check out our social media package with stereotype-defying visuals, GIFs and inspirational quotes from women innovators here.

Achieving a gender-equal world requires social innovations that work for both women and men and leave no one behind. From urban planning that focuses on community safety to e-learning platforms that take classrooms to women and girls, affordable and quality childcare centres, and technology shaped by women, innovation can take the race for gender equality to its finishing line by 2030.

It begins with making sure that women’s and girls' needs and experiences are integrated at the very inception of technology and innovations. It means building smart solutions that go beyond acknowledging the gender gaps to addressing the needs of men and women equally. And ultimately, it needs innovations that disrupt business as usual, paying attention to how and by whom technology is used and accessed, and ensuring that women and girls play a decisive role in emerging industries.

Join us to celebrate women and girls, their limitless imagination, their joyous dreams and their boundless strength.

Video: This #WomensDay, we’re innovating for change

What does it mean to innovate? From mobile banking to artificial intelligence and the internet of things, it is vital that women’s ideas and experiences equally influence the design and implementation of the innovations that shape our future societies.

Amplify the stories of the unheard
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Photo essay: Equality is our goal, access is our right

Equality is our goal, access is our right
A bus to get to work. A clinic for health care. A monthly pension for old age. Some people can take these for granted. But many others suffer from the lack of infrastructure, public services and social protection that affect their rights and well-being. Women and girls are often foremost among those who miss out. See more

From the internet to the bicycle, here are just a handful of innovations we take for granted today that have shaped the lives of women and girls. More

We're celebrating women activists around the world who have insisted on a better world and persisted in the face of adversity. More


Events and activities in Asia-Pacific

Photo: Courtesy of Female Fight League

Female Fight League (FFL) hosted a free open introduction to Muaythai and self-defense for Women and children at Nimibutr, National stadium in the center of Bangkok.

Photo: BSR

Companies are increasingly aware that engaging women in top management positions allows them to broaden their perspectives on their consumers' and stakeholders’ needs. Join BSR and UN Women to celebrate International Women’s Day 2019. Discussions will focus on the importance of women in the Asian workplace.

Photo: UN Women/Pathumporn Thongking

In commemoration of International Women’s Day 2019, an interactive dialogue on ‘Unlocking Potential: Innovations for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment’ will be held on Friday, 8 March in Bangkok. The dialogue, organized by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) and UN Women, will focus on innovative solutions, start-ups, applications and technologies that help advance gender equality in the region.

Photo: UN Women/Aijamal Duishebaeva

For the commemoration of International Women's Day on 8 March, the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong (HKEX), UN Women and Women in ETFs will organize a "Ring the Bell for Gender Equality 2019" event in Hong Kong. The objective is to engage Hong Kong business leaders in building awareness, sharing good practices and inspiring other businesses to empower women, including through innovative solutions that advance gender equality. The private sector is an important ally in promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment, as drivers of innovation, job creators and providers of essential capital.

BalanceForBetter Facebook frame

To take part in the BalanceforBetterMyanmar social media campaign a person or organization simply posts a selfie photo with the BalanceForBetter Facebook frame using one of the campaign hashtags #BalanceforBetterMyanmar, #ThinkBuildInnovateMyanmar or #WomensDay and post it along with the statement for gender equality on social media such as Facebook and Twitter. BalanceforBetterMyanmar social media campaign encourages everyone to join the movement on 4 March till 11 March and make your voices to be heard for the innovative ways to advance gender equality.

Photo: Alliance française de Bangkok

As part of the International Women's Day, Alliance Française de Bangkok organizes initiation workshops on self-defense for women. This initiation, completely free, proposes simple strategies to avoid situations of aggression, to be able to put limits both verbally and nonverbally and to discover defense techniques.

Photo: Alliance française de Bangkok

[Trailer] Commemorating this year’s International Women’s Day, Alliance Française de Bangkok screens Mama Colonel, a documentary film about Colonel Homorine, a police officer who dedicated her life to protecting women and children who have been abused in the war-plagued regions of the Congo.

Top stories in Asia-Pacific

Sulochana Timalsina is the go-to person in her community. Women come to her for beauty treatments like eyebrow threading or hairdressing, as well as for advice on self-growth and empowerment. Photo: UN Women/Merit Maharjan

Sulochana Timalsina has been running a parlour and a store side-by-side for a few years now, but says her life took a turn after she participated in the 12-day Gender-Responsive Entrepreneurship Development training implemented by Vocational and Skills Development Training, UN Women’s implementing partner.

Nadi and Rakiraki Market Vendors’ Association representatives and Fiji Police draft plans to improve market safety. Photo: UN Women/Atunaisa Drivatiyawe

UN Women’s Markets for Change project is a key component of its Women’s Economic Empowerment programme. The six-year initiative aims to ensure that marketplaces in rural and urban areas in Fiji, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu are safe, inclusive and non-discriminatory, promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment.

Montha Kanika, a student, talks about her team’s prototype solution to sexual harassment at the innovation workshop on 12 November. Photo: UN Women/Leng Sreynich

Seventy young people participating in a UN Women-organized “Ideathon” have come up with innovative solutions to the problems women in Asia face in school and at work. The Innovation for Impact (i4i) Ideathon brought together 70 women aged 18-25 from across the region to discuss ways to improve women’s participation in the workforce and small-medium businesses, personal safety and especially sexual harassment, and access to higher education for girls.

Caption: Yuli is a 45-year-old housewife who, through the Empowered Women, Peaceful Communities programme, started a business group with other women from her community. Of women’s role in promoting cohesive societies, she says, “Empowering women to build a peaceful community fits the slogan of our city: empowered village, successful city. For me personally, peace starts from home and community.” Photo: UN Women/Eric Gourlan

With financial support of the government of japan, and under UN Women’s regional programme “Empowered women, Peaceful Communities,” the Peace Villages have been built by commitment of community members in protecting and fostering tolerance and peace within communities.

Almost five years ago and nearly every year since, the Districts of Dadu and Mirpur Khas in Sindh Province have been affected with devastating floods caused by heavy rains, exposing local communities and villages to face hunger, destruction and displacement. In cases of shortfall of rain, these people again experience hunger and displacement.

Vimlendu Jha and Pratik Kumar, social entrepreneurs from India, were invited to facilitate the workshop. Training sessions were based on their successful pioneering social venture in India called “Million Kitchen”, a tech-based home food ordering platform that enables home cooked meals to be delivered home or at work. The aim of UN Women’s initiative is to introduce and replicate this innovative approach for women homebased workers in Pakistan, and that way give them access to new markets through ICT, and further create employability, enterprise development and women’s economic empowerment.

Martha Alicia Benavente. Photo: UN Women/Ryan Brown

Seven months ago, the Mayor of Tucurú selected me to go to the Barefoot College in India to learn solar engineering. I said, give me thirty minutes to think about it, the Mayor said, you have fifteen. Before I had the lamp, I used to spend 5 – 10 Quetzals every day to light candles. Or we would stay in the dark sometimes, because the store wouldn’t give us credit to buy more candles. I had to finish all my chores at home by 7 p.m. Now, I can build a solar lamp in 20 minutes!

Suhela Khan. Photo: UN Women/Jeevan Kanakkassery

Suhela Khan currently leads UN Women’s joint programme with UNEP, called "Women’s Entrepreneurship for Sustainable Energy Programme" in India. Launched at COP 21 in six countries, the Programme works on identifying and removing structural gender-specific barriers that female energy entrepreneurs face, enhancing women’s productive use of sustainable energy, and increasing women’s participation and leadership in developing gender-responsive energy policies.

Nandini Chami. Photo: UN Women/Ryan Brown

Nandini Chami works on policy research and advocacy on the intersection of ICTs, gender equality, and development, at IT for Change, an NGO based in Bengaluru, India. She was part of the IT for Change team that developed a toolkit on mainstreaming gender in e-government ecosystems for policymakers in the Asia-Pacific, with support from UNPOG and UNESCAP. She also supports Prakriye, a centre in Mysore, in developing training programmes for women’s rights groups on adopting digital tools in their field practice, and ‘education for empowerment’ for rural adolescent girls. More

Take the #WomensDay social media challenge!

  • For International Women’s Day, join us to increase the visibility and recognition of women trailblazers. Follow @UN_Women and @UNWomenAsia to take one of the daily challenges, from finding a woman on your currency to sharing a street named after a woman in your town. A new challenge will be revealed every day!
  • Check out the automatic emoji on Twitter when tweeting with the official hashtag #WomensDay.
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