United Nations Observance of International Women’s Day, 8 March 2021

March 5, 2021

The theme for the United Nations Observance of International Women’s Day 2021 (8 March) is “Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world, on the way to the Generation Equality Forum.” In addition to featuring and celebrating the tremendous efforts by women and girls around the world in shaping a more equal future and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, the event will also ‘lift the curtain’ and bring increased attention to this year’s Generation Equality Forums in Mexico City (29-31 March 2021) and Paris (June 2021).


Women of the world want and deserve an equal future free from stigma, stereotypes and violence; a future that’s sustainable, peaceful, with equal rights and opportunities for all. To get us there, the world needs women at every table where decisions are being made.

Women’s full and effective participation and leadership in of all areas of life drives progress for everyone. Yet, women are still underrepresented in public life and decision-making, as revealed in the UN Secretary-General’s recent report. Women are Heads of State or Government in 22 countries, and only 24.9 per cent of national parliamentarians are women. At the current rate of progress, gender equality among Heads of Government will take another 130 years.

Women are also at the forefront of the battle against COVID-19, as front-line and health sector workers, as scientists, doctors and caregivers, yet they get paid 11 per cent less globally than their male counterparts. An analysis of COVID-19 task teams from 87 countries found only 3.5 per cent of them had gender parity.

When women lead, we see positive results. Some of the most efficient and exemplary responses to the COVID-19 pandemic were led by women. And women, especially young women, are at the forefront of diverse and inclusive movements online and on the streets for social justice, climate change and equality in all parts of the world. Yet, women under 30 are less than 1 per cent of parliamentarians worldwide.

This is why, this year’s International Women’s Day is a rallying cry for Generation Equality, to act for an equal future for all. The Generation Equality Forum, the most important convening for gender equality investment and actions, kicks off in Mexico City from 29 – 31 March, and culminates in Paris in June 2021. It will draw leaders, visionaries, and activists from around the world, safely on a virtual platform, to push for transformative and lasting change for generations to come.

Learn more about the Generation Equality Forummeet the activists, and get inspired by stories of women leaders we admire.


Hosted by Sophia Pierre-Antoine, PSEA Officer at IOM HQ and former Board Co-Chair of FRIDA Young Feminist Fund.

Speakers include:

  • H.E. António Guterres, Secretary General of the United Nations
  • H.E. Volkan Bozkir, President of the General Assembly
  • H.E. Mher Margaryan, Chair of the 65th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women
  • Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of UN Women
  • Somaya Faruqi, Member of the Afghan Girls Robotic Team

Women’s Leadership in a COVID-19 World:

  • Eddie Ndopu, SDG and disability rights advocate, in conversation with:
  • H.E. Katrín Jakobsdóttir, Prime Minister of Iceland
  • H.E. Elizabeth Gómez Alcorta, Minister of Women, Gender and Diversity of Argentina
  • Aya Chebbi, outgoing African Union Youth Envoy and Chair of Africa Young Women Manifesto Group
  • Xiye Bastida, climate justice activist and co-founder of Re-Earth Initiative

Generation Equality Forum Segment, featuring key messages from:

  • H.E. Élisabeth Moreno, Minister for Gender Equality, Diversity and Equal Opportunities of France
  • H.E. Marcelo Ebrard, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Mexico
  • Chamathya Fernando and Anika Jane Dorothy, members of the GEF Youth Task Force
  • Zoneziwoh Mbondgulo-Wondieh, member of the GEF Civil Society Advisory Group

Panel discussion on the Generation Equality Forum Action Coalitions and the Women, Peace and Security and Humanitarian Action Compact, featuring:

  • Faith Kasiva, Secretary Gender, State Department for Gender, Kenya
  • Jarmo Sareva, Ambassador for Innovation, Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland
  • Sivananthi Thanenthiran, Executive Director of ARROW
  • Joanita Babirye, Programme Director, Girls for Climate Uganda
  • Rosita Najmi, Senior Director, Head of Global Social Innovation of Paypal
  • Kavita Ramdas, Director, Women’s Rights Programme of Open Society Foundations
  • Filippo Grandi, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

Special video message by Eva Longoria, actress, activist, producer, and philanthropist.

Musical performances by Pihcintu ChorusAngelica Hale and Broadway Singers.

The colour for International Women’s Day 2021 is yellow.