International Women’s Day 2021

Celebrating women and their achievements is a daily duty of everyone who wants to make a change. International Women’s Day is here to reinforce this commitment by putting women’s equality on the cultural, political, social and economic agenda.

Year after year the conversation around women’s rights and gender equality grows stronger. Adopting an inclusive mindset is no longer just another trend, but slowly becoming the “new normal”. Step-by-step we are getting closer to an equal world.


Nevertheless “closer” does not mean we are anywhere near “close”. “Getting closer” at the current pace means that none of us will live to see gender parity. Most likely neither will many of our children. The Gender Gap Report 2020 reveals that at the current pace, gender parity will not be attained for another 99.5 years.


Can celebrating International Women’s Day speed this up? Probably not.


What it can do is put the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women in the spotlight and thus amplify the call to action for accelerating gender parity.

Annie Kenney and Christabel Pankhurst

International Women’s Day History

The history of International Women’s Day is an inspiring reminder of what can be achieved when people come together. The very first International Women’s Day grew out of the workers’ rights and women’s suffrage movements of the 20th century, which were closely linked.


After 15,000 working women marched through the streets of New York City in 1908 demanding shorter working hours, better pay and the right to vote, in 1910 the International Conference of Working Women proposed the idea of an annual International Women’s Day that would be used to advance the cause of economic, social, and political empowerment for women around the world.


The following year International Women’s Day was celebrated formally for the first time, with over one million women joining demonstrations in Austria, Germany, Switzerland, and Denmark. Things became official when in 1975 the United Nations celebrated IWD.


The first International Women’s Day theme adopted by the UN, back in 1996, was “Celebrating the past, Planning for the Future”. Fast forward to 2021 and a day that started with the struggle for political representation for working women in the Industrial Era has evolved into a global celebration where people from every country – regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, religion, sexuality, body type, or disability – join diverse IWD activities with the aim creating a more inclusive world in our time.


As a nod to the historical origins of International Women’s Day, the official IWD colors are still Purple, Green, and White. These were the colors of the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU), the British women’s suffrage organization founded by Emmeline Pankhurst in 1903.

International Women’s Day 2021 Theme

If you had to describe the current pandemic times with one word, what would it be? To many, this word is challenge.


In connection with the last year, the word “challenge” might first awaken negative associations. Not so for this year’s International Women’s Day campaign. The 2021 IWD theme #ChooseToChallenge advocates the idea that a challenged world is an alert world and every single one of us carries the responsibility for our own thoughts and actions:

International Womens Day 2021 ChooseToChallenge

Celebrating International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day is here for everyone. It is borderless and as such not limited to any single country, group, company or organization.


At PayU, our vision is to create a world without financial borders where everyone can prosper. The run-up to this year’s IWD has been an opportunity for us to choose to challenge ourselves to live up to our vision and values by affirming the borderless nature of celebrating and empowering women.


Over the past few weeks, we’ve put the collective efforts of diverse teams around the globe into creating an exciting week of International Women’s Day celebrations.



How to celebrate IWD at work?

Even during the work-from-home era, there are plenty of ways to celebrate this year on March 8th.


When creating IWD initiatives, companies are advised to focus their campaigns on:

  • Celebrating women’s achievements
  • Raising awareness about women’s equality
  • Lobbying for accelerated gender parity


We at PayU kicked off our International Women’s Day celebration week on the 2nd March with an inaugural video message from our CHRO Priya Cherian. Hear her talking about some of PayU’s key D&I achievements and focus areas:




The PayU IWD agenda offers various digital events and initiatives such as:

  • Sessions with external speakers on diverse topics ranging from “time management”, “sustainable menstruation” to “balancing maternity and paternity”
  • Employee interviews led by our leadership team focused on D&I and exploring our room for improvement
  • Employee contest for sharing inspiring personal D&I experiences
  • A panel discussion featuring female employees moderated by our CEO Laurent Le Moal
  • And many more
ChooseToChallenge Instagram

PayUneers #ChooseToChallenge

We at PayU look forward to supporting this year’s International Women’s Day campaign by raising our hands, striking the #ChooseToChallenge pose and spreading the word across our social media channels.


To learn more and join IWD in pushing for a more equal and just society, visit the official International Women’s Day website.