international women's day europe
This Week In Europe

International Women’s Day 2021: How to make it count

International Women’s Day: in some countries, a day of celebration or even a public holiday – for others, a day to mobilise and protest. Here’s a way to do both and help to make a difference for women just like you or your close ones – as well as those facing struggles you can barely imagine.

In many parts of Europe, such as Italy, Poland, and Russia, International Women’s Day is a day for all to celebrate the women in their life – often resulting in bouquets, chocolates, and festive showerings of affection. 

But what if we made it a day to both celebrate all those who identify as women  – and also use it as an annual reminder to push for gender equity (which, despite what you may think, still hasn’t been achieved in Europe!) by calling for every woman’s voice to be heard and counted? 

From the staggering recent rollback of reproductive freedom in Poland (part of a wider global backlash against bodily autonomy and sexual education) to the unsettling rise in domestic gender-based violence over a year of on-and-off lockdowns, the age-old policing of women’s dress, the skewed refugee experience, the persistent harmful misogynistic practices – and not to mention the urgent need for new voices in pretty much all places where decisions are made – gender inequalities are still very much a major issue – even more so during these unprecedented times.

The Global Count

However, countless movements and individuals spanning international borders are determined to push back against gender inequality in all its many, many forms.

The Global Count, launched back in January in place of the usual annual global Women’s March, is an online poll open to all women, non-binary, and transgender people from every country, culture, and racial background around the globe. Its founding principle is that we must listen to women and gender-diverse people everywhere in the critical push for global gender equity; to learn from the experiences of individuals living all kinds of realities, while ensuring all voices are counted as we face the new and unfamiliar post-pandemic world.

How does the Global Count work?

Poll respondents are invited to call out the issue areas related to gender inequity that are most pertinent to them personally, as well as the wider community where they live – wherever they are in the world. These issues are based on the Women’s March Global Unity Principles, intended to capture the vast range of obstacles faced by women today in every social, regional, or demographic context, and go as follows:


But why?

The fact is, insight and data on what women want is scarce – and where it does exist, it’s systematically neglected from policy and funding programme design. This is particularly apparent for data on gender issues, with UN Women reporting in 2019 that for the gender-related SDGs, we are currently seeing only 31% of the data required for monitoring them.

The Global Count was designed to ensure diverse voices from all cultures, backgrounds, and walks of life have their perspective on what needs to be done to combat ingrained inequalities in policies and funding programmes.

According to the Global Count board:

‘While we see women earning leadership positions in some countries, human rights authorities are declaring that gender-based violence and inequities in the workplace are as bad as they were 25 years ago. Not only that, but funding for initiatives to advance women’s equity is often ineffective.’

As such, there is an undeniable and urgent need to map more effectively critical issues facing women across the globe. By better understanding priorities defined by women in every region, the Global Count intends to set the foundation for those voices that usually go unheard to define how global institutions should work towards gender equity.

The results gathered from this pioneering global poll will put the spotlight on the top priorities of women and other often-marginalised groups – for governments, international institutions, the development sector, and grassroots movements to make a more targeted and effective impact.

It’s therefore fundamental you make sure that the women in your own country are speaking up – so that the data can provide insight on what could be changed for the better to improve the quality of life for all where you live.

So far, the top 3 European countries with the most responses are Switzerland, the UK, and Germany – but there is a reported lack of data from Latvia, North Macedonia, Slovakia, and Slovenia. It is critical that women and gender-diverse people know about this opportunity so that they can have this opportunity to have their opinion shape future national policies and nonprofit work.

What has the Global Count uncovered so far?

Since polling has now been open for over a month, we can already observe from the emerging trends that women and gender-diverse people in Europe have flagged the following three issue areas as the major obstacles to gender equity where they live:

  1. Ending Violence and Harassment (63%)
    – Cultural/social issues are seen to be the greatest barrier
  2. Environmental Justice (50%)
    – Political issues are seen as the greatest barrier
  3. Racial Equity (31%)
    – Cultural/social issues are seen to be the greatest barrier

Interestingly, these results are remarkably similar in other parts of the world too – suggesting that all though experiences vary greatly across the world, the issues women want to be prioritised are almost universal – with ending violence and harassment so far being the top issue across the board.

International Women’s Day 2021: Make it count

It’s all well and good to have commemorative days like International Women’s Day fill our newsfeeds and inspire performative gestures for the day. But rather than just a hashtag or a sequel to Valentine’s day, why not go a step further this year? Contribute to the Global Count and see what we can change collectively by the time the next International Women’s Day rolls around.

Please take the poll now – available in several languages, and share it in your #InternationalWomensDay post, nominating the women and gender-diverse people in your life to get counted too. 

Because what they think matters. Because their voices count.

Because everyone deserves to have their voice heard – especially at this global turning point as we slowly recover from the most globally turbulent year in modern times. This is the perfect opportunity to call for positive change.

Graphic: Time is up on exclusion and discrimination! Social justice will only be achieved with EVERYONE on board!

Take action now! 👇

  1. Watch the Global Count launch video
  2. Be counted here – then spread the word on your platforms with the hashtags #WeCount & #InternationalWomensDay2021
  3. Catch more about the Global Count at this event happening TODAY at 7pm CET HERE.
  4. Follow Women’s March Global & the Global Count on Twitter to stay in the loop.
Roxanna Azimy
Roxanna is a British and Iranian advocacy writer specialised in human rights, health, and welfare. With a languages degree from King's College London, a Masters in European Studies from LSE, and an EU communications background, she strives to increase the visibility of ethical and sociocultural issues in Europe and beyond. Twitter: @RoxannaYasmin Medium: @RoxannaAzimy

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