Each year when I see International Women's Day looming on the calendar, I think of Coco Chanel's words and wonder how she would celebrate this great day. Undoubtedly, with great style and a fresh coat of red lipstick. I also think of Helen Reddy who, in 1971, co-wrote and performed a song that would become an enduring anthem for women: "I am woman, hear me roar… I am strong , I am invincible, I am woman". Two very different women, from different worlds, with one great aspiration – to see women take their place in the world.
To understand how International Women's Day came about, we need to go back to 1911 and to rallies involving over a million people in Europe demanding the right for women to vote, work, hold public office, get vocational training and to end discrimination. This day continued to be recognized annually and its impact grew - gaining attention and raising awareness of women's issues on a worldwide scale. In 1975, the United Nations drew global attention to women's concerns by calling for an International Women's year. Now, each year on 8 March across the world, events are held to celebrate achievements of women in the economic, political and social arenas and to draw attention to areas of inequality where further action is needed.
For the women of the world, this day is an opportunity to celebrate how far they have come in their struggle for equality, peace and development.
Australia has embraced International Women's Day with vigour. There are many events being organised around Australia to mark the day, most of them being held during the week commencing 3 March 2014.
If you want to know what's on, here are five starters that will give you useful information about events happening across the country to celebrate International Women's Day.
The UN Women (National Committee) Australia is a major organiser of International Women's Day events across the country. Take a look at what's on offer here.
International Women's Day is a global hub for sharing news, events and resources. There are some great events listed on their website and these can be searched by country and city. If you're organising an event and would like to list it on the website, this is the place to go.
If you're in Sydney, why not look at the breakfast being held at The Women's Club where Sue Conde AM, Immediate Past President of the Australian NC for UN Women will be speaking.
If a loud and lively march through the streets to raise awareness of women's issues is your thing, take off your high heels and join the march being planned on 8 March by Sydney International Women's Day group.
If you're thinking about hosting something a little more personal for you and some friends, get some ideas here.
Whether you attend a formal event being organized around your town or plan your own personal event with family, friends or colleagues, remember the strength, courage and determination of the many ordinary women who have played an extraordinary role in the history of their countries and communities. Also look forward to the amazing opportunities and challenges that await future generations of women with our encouragement and support.