International Women's Day 2011

International Women's DayMillions of people around the world will celebrate the strength and achievements of women on March 8th 2011, the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day.

There has been significant progress in women’s rights since 1911 but there is still a long way to go to create a truly equal world. The centenary of International Women’s Day is a crucial opportunity to raise awareness of inequality and reinvigorate public demand for equality and positive change.

The denial of women's basic rights is a major cause of poverty. By putting their rights at the heart of the work we do, millions of women are gaining power over their lives and overcoming poverty and suffering.

Women and climate change

Climate change is already devastating people’s lives with unpredictable and extreme weather hitting harvests – making it harder for the poorest people, particularly women, to provide food for their families.The Cancun climate talks established an urgently needed climate fund to help poor people to adapt to the effects of climate change. The needs of women must be at the heart of the fund as they are amongst the hardest hit by climate change and at the forefront of finding solutions to deal with it.

> Mamtaz' story: The fight for climate justice in the Bay of Bengal watch ¦ read

Women and food justice  

Women produce the majority of the world’s food yet the whole agricultural system is stacked against them.  Women lack a voice in decision making – from the household to the international arena; they rarely own the land they farm; and struggle to access government aid and support that is available to men. It is time women’s critical role in feeding the world is acknowledged and time they get the support and assistance they deserve.

Women and the food price rises

Women and children living in poverty will be hardest hit if global food prices continue to rise.  In many countries it is women who are responsible for feeding their families and, when times are hard, it is women who go without to allow their husbands and children to eat.

Governments must act now  and act together to help those already facing the crisis, to avert another global crisis and to help end hunger for the almost 1 billion people who go to bed hungry every day.

This International Women’s Day, Oxfam is participating around the world in this global moment for gender justice.


  • Participation in the UN Commission on Status of Women meetings in New York: where Oxfam Novib (Netherlands) will be hosting a special event at which the findings of an important survey of civil society organizations on the newly created agency UN Women will be presented.
  • Participation in the EQUALS Initiative, a coalition of leading development agencies brought together by Oxfam Ambassador Annie Lennox, to celebrate the centenary of International Women's Day. “Together we're stepping up the call for a more equal world.” Oxfam is a founding member of the coalition and has gotten both Michelle Bachelet and Mary Robinson to sign onto the “We are Equals!” call.

> Annie Lennox blogs: The 100th Anniversary of International Women's Day: Let's make it count!

Oxfam affiliates

Oxfam affilaites are organizing a multitude of events to celebrate International Women's Day:

  • Oxfam America has organized over 100 community events, and their new interactive photobook supports women worldwide.
  • Oxfam Australia is supporting groups hosting local IWD events with resources that speak to the impact of climate change on women producers, including the Sisters of the Planet films and photo exhibits from the Pacific.
  • Oxfam Mexico is convening a major forum with allies on the impact of climate change and food security on rural women. The event will include a photo exhibit, street market and press conference. 
  • Oxfam Canada volunteers are bringing the message that “Women Feed the World” to community IWD events (parades, presentations, meals) across Canada, and this is being accompanied by a ‘Letter to the Editor’ campaign targeting newspapers and blogs on March 8th.


Oxfam and our partners continue to work hard to put women’s rights at the heart of our work:

  • In Guatemala, Oxfam Canada is supporting the efforts of rural women's organizations to develop a joint agenda and strategies. A national forum to culminate this process was to be held on March 8.  Partners have since decided to hold it on another date in order to participate in the March 8 march with the broader IWD movement.
  • In Mexico, one of our partners, the Rural Women's Alliance, will be putting on a play they developed to enact a moment in history, the return from refugee camps in Mexico, up to the challenges of the present day.
  • In Nicaragua, Oxfam Canada is contributing to a campaign of the broad women's movement, 'Todas Unidas, Todas Juntas.' Three local female singer-songwriters came developed and recorded a theme song and video. The launch concert will be held at MEC's annual colloquium, with local concerts to follow.
  • The women of our partner Fenacoop (also participating in 'Todas Unidas, Todas Juntas') together with the Rural Women's Coordination will be holding a national forum, which Oxfam is supporting, to celebrate and make visible the demands of rural women. 
  • Our partner Femuprocan will celebrate March 8 by presenting the results of the systematization of their empowerment strategy, which Oxfam Canada funded.
  • Another Oxfam partner, The Women's Network against Violence, is holding a series of internal consultations on two proposed laws against violence against women currently before Parliament and will present their position publicly on March 8.
  • In El Salvador, hopes are high that the Equal Opportunity Law (developed and promoted by the Concertación Feminista, a long time partner) will be approved on March 8.  There will be local and national activites to celebrate March 8 and make visible women’s support for the law.