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International Women’s Day has developed into a truly global celebration of gender equality and female empowerment with Tuesday’s event proving to be the biggest yet.

Social media was abuzz with conversations around this year’s theme of #PledgeForParity and there were over 1.1m mentions of the other official hashtag #IWD2016 on the day via Twitter alone.

Brands are increasingly building the awareness day into their marketing strategies, with global companies through to SMEs alike posting content and launching campaigns around the theme.

In this post I’ll run through some of the most impactful campaigns from the day.

Microsoft: #MakeWhatsNext

Microsoft marked IWD with the launch of its #MakeWhatsNext campaign video.

The video highlights the often undervalued contribution that women inventors have made to science, due to the emphasis often falling on their male counterparts in terms of what children are taught through mainstream school curriculums.

Each girl is first asked to name an inventor, which all managed with ease, reeling off names including Thomas Edison, Alexander Bell and Leonardo Di Vinci.

They were then asked to repeat the exercise but instead to list female inventors instead, and all struggled to do so explaining that they had only been taught about the men.

The campaign coincides with Microsoft’s YouthSpark program which aims to help young people, particularly women, get access to tools and training to empower them through computer science.

Fairy Fair

Fairy released a video aimed at addressing the unequal distribution of who does the household chores between the genders.

Opening with the statistic that on average women in the UK spend 117 minutes more doing household chores than men every day, the video interviewed couples about how they share duties such as laundry, cleaning, cooking and ironing with the women lamenting the fact that they end up burdened with the lion's share.

Fairy provided them with a bottle of Fairy Liquid, dropping the ‘Y’ as a reminder to the men to help out more. 

The same theme was first explored by Ariel India in its #Sharetheload campaign earlier this year.

Research conducted by BBDO India revealed that 73% of women feel men prefer relaxing over helping with household chores.

The ads asked the question ‘Is laundry only a woman’s job?’ and earned significant media coverage in India, also sparking social media conversations and debate.

Actions from the campaign included a ‘His & Her’ product being created, a change to the wash care labels of clothes, and in a landmark move Ariel tied up with matrimonial websites (where millions of prospective couples meet) and willingness to ‘Share the load’ was introduced to matchmaking profiles.

The result? Millions of men pledged to #sharetheload and contribute to a shift in the mindset of other men across India. 

Google: #OneDayIWill

Google’s IWD doodle celebrated the aspirations of women from around the world.

The video featured 13 cities around the world, asking 33 girls and women from all walks of life to complete the sentence “One Day I Will…”.

From San Francisco and Rio de Janeiro through to Moscow and Cairo, each of the women came from a different location and had a unique perspective and set of ambitions.

The doodle included some notable figures including anthropologist Jane Goodall and Nobel Prize Winner Malala Yousafzai through to unknown women who Google described as the “women [who] continue to dream big”. 

Oxfam International: Make a pledge

Oxfam International shared messages of struggle, inspiration and freedom from women around the world, calling on followers and supporters to make a pledge of support.

Via an onsite checklist, users can promise to carry out various actions in the name of advancing female equality, from signing a petition asking David Cameron to lead the fight on wage inequality, through to pledging to buy Fairtrade products in order to support women farmers.

The bold campaign saw Oxfam itself pledge ‘that every girl should be able to dream as big as every boy.’

What can we expect from International Women's Day 2017?

While each of the campaigns from 2016’s IWD highlight a positive message of equality, it’s important to remember that it hasn’t been achieved yet.

Many of the issues which IWD highlights, from pay and education inequalities through to unequal distribution of the household chores, still effect women from across the world on a daily basis.

Content such as that which the BBC shared around the question of oppression among Saudi women and dating app Happn’s shocking campaign highlighting the prevalence of domestic abuse, are stark reminders that there is still a long way to go before there is complete gender parity globally.

For #IWD2017 it’s safe to assume that even more brands will be planning campaigns and content around the theme of female empowerment internationally.

This will help to raise awareness and work to support the UN’s overarching goal of gender equality for all and a ‘planet 50-50 by 2030’

Chloe McKenna

Published 14 March, 2016 by Chloe McKenna

Chloe McKenna is International Digital Strategist at Oban Digital and a contributor to Econsultancy. 

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