• Khaulah Abbas

The Impact of Color on International Women’s Day 2021

Back to the Beginning

In 1908, 15,000 women marched through New York City insisting on shorter working hours, better pay and the right to vote. Two years later, a woman named Clara Zetkin put forward the idea of an International Women's Day during a conference with over 100 women from 17 different countries representing unions and working women’s clubs.

Her idea suggested that every year in every country, there should be a celebration on the same day - a Women's Day - to push for their demands. Her suggested was welcomed with unanimous approval and thus International Women's Day was born.

Fast forward to 1975, the United Nations first celebrated International Women’s Day during International Women’s Year. And, by 1977, the UN and its member states confirmed 8 March would be an official day for women’s rights and world peace. It’s now observed all over the world.

The Power of Color

Purple, green and white are the colors of IWD according to the International Women's Day website. Fun fact - for the year 2021, purple has been chosen as ‘Color of the Year’. Traditionally speaking, the color purple signifies justice and dignity. Green symbolizes hope, while white represents purity.

Three Colors to Wear on IWD

While marching and protesting is one way to raise awareness to women’s right, another, perhaps simpler way, is to dress accordingly. Three years ago, the #MeToo movement encouraged women to wear black to the 2018 Golden Globes and it made a very strong statement. Similarly, the colors you choose to wear—on International Women’s Day —indeed will carry an unspoken meaning that’s louder than words.

As we’ve entered this era of amplified focus on workplace etiquette and behavior, color is now also a major factor of psychologists and businesses. Here are some colors appropriate to wear to the office on #IWD, while showing support:

1. Internationally, purple is a color that symbolizes women. According to the National Woman’s Party, purple is the color of loyalty, constancy to purpose, unswerving steadfastness to a cause – a color particularly linked to the suffragette’s movement. It’s also the color of dignity and self-respect. The IWD organizers say that purple is the color of the future, and as it happens, the color has always symbolized the exact kind of gender equality that we’re still fighting for today. Since the official color for International Women’s Day this year is purple, go ahead and wear a purple shirt and ribbon. Bonus points if you want to be that colleague who writes all their emails in purple font!

2. The symbolism of wearing all white also goes back to the suffragette movement, when women were strongly encouraged to wear it to counter the portrayal of suffrages as being masculine. As the movement grew, wearing white became an accessible way for anyone to join the cause. By making a color rather than a specific garment the main focus, the suffragettes created an equal uniform, welcoming women of all race or economic status to take part. Today, women continue to wear the color white to pay tribute to the suffragists and the continued fight for women’s rights.

3. Another signature color of the suffragette movement in Britain was green – which stands for hope, and the emblem of spring.

4. In America, gold replaced green. A 1913 article in The Suffragist explained “gold, the color of light and life, is as the torch that guides our purpose, pure and unswerving.”

This year’s theme: #ChooseToChallenge.

Today more than ever, International Women's Day has become a date to celebrate how far women have come in society, in politics, in economics, and to raise awareness and efforts towards equality. This year’s #ChoosetoChallenge theme is fitting, especially after the tumultuous year that has been 2020. Women have largely bore the burden of the global pandemic. This year, let’s bond together to choose to celebrate women’s achievement, and create a more inclusive world. After all, together we can.

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