From Afghanistan to Zimbabwe women have been heavily using social media to focus global attention on areas where inequalities prevail.
International Women's Day (IWD) 2012 has been a big hit on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and LinkedIn, among other networking sites.
Each year the United Nations declares an overall International Women’s Day theme. Their 2012 theme is “Empower Rural Women – End Hunger and Poverty”.
Many organisations develop their own themes that are more relevant to their local contexts. For example, the European Parliament’s 2012 theme is "Equal pay for work of equal value".
8 March marked the 101st IWD, with thousands of events occurring worldwide to celebrate women’s progress or to rally against inequality.
World figures including the President of the United States of America Barack Obama and UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon made official statements supporting International Women’s Day and its focus.
British Prime Minister David Cameron called for efforts to eliminate violence against girls and women using social media initiatives to change and improve lives. However, his government also faced strong criticism for UK public spending cuts that are hitting women' services badly.
Celebrity supporters for the Day have included singer-songwriter and We are Equals activist Annie Lennox and Oxfam supporters Helena Christensen and Kristin Davis.
For decades women have banded together to challenge injustices, overcome barriers and pursue equality, IWD activists point out.
International Women's Day provides an opportunity to commemorate these efforts, celebrate progress and call for commitment to women’s rights, peace and equality. Social media and #womensday tweets provide a whole new way to interact, clearly a contrast to the days of pioneering suffragettes.
Glenda Stone, founder of the internationalwomensday.com website that has served as a global hub for International Women’s Day events, resources and news for over a decade commented: “Activity on International Women’s Day has skyrocketed over the last five years. This is due to the rise of social media, celebrity involvement, and corporations taking on the day sponsoring and running big events."
She continued: "Our twitter.com/womensday community with around 10,000 followers is phenomenal for sharing videos, information and news as it happens. Offline large scale women’s rallies have become even larger through the use of social media. It would be hard to find any country that did not celebrate the day in some way.”
International Women’s Day, which saw its first event run in 1911, continues to provide a powerful opportunity to unite, network and mobilise worldwide for meaningful change. It provides an opportunity to make a stand against inequality, discrimination and marginalisation that only serves to weaken all societies.