International Women’s Day Guidelines

These are outline guidelines that may be helpful either as a guide for those planning an event for the first time or as a checklist or reminder for more experienced hosts.  They should not be regarded as rules – you know your own community and what is or is not appropriate. The celebration of International Women’s Day coupled with recognition of UN Women and its work is what is important.

2015 Guidelines

Available here.

Type of event and date

The tradition is to hold a breakfast event on or as close as possible to 8 March, usually with a speaker.  However this will not suit everyone, and we have had successful potluck lunches, picnics, parades, gigs and so on.  It is not necessary to hold the event on 8 March if this does not suit, especially if there is a clash with local events.

UN Women National Committee Aotearoa NZ support

We will provide the following:

  • One or more themes: There will be a global theme, which is usually announced by UN Women headquarters at the UN in December or January.  Depending on the nature of the global theme, there may also be a local theme.  In 2011, for example, the global theme was Equal access to education, training and science and technology: pathway to decent work for women. while there was a New Zealand theme of Celebrate, reflect, inspire. It can be useful guidance for a speaker to ask them to address the current theme, although this is not necessary.
  • Information about UN Women: Shortly before 8 March you will receive information sheets and leaflets about UN Women both in New Zealand and worldwide. On request we will also send balloons, stickers and posters which can be useful for decorating your venue, and the UN Women logo which can be used for invitations and promotions.
  • Goods for sale: We can supply brooches in the form of the UN Women symbol in silver metal with a paua eye ($15 each), pens ($3 each) and International Women’s Day commemorative coins ($20 each).
  • Support and advice: UN Women National Committee Aotearoa NZ’s IWD co-ordinator, Barbara Bedeschi, can be consulted by email at any time.

    Your organisation’s part

    Once you have decided what sort of event you would like to organise, you will need to give some thought to the following:

  • Date: Check for other events in early March (your local council may be able to help here). Try to avoid a clash with another event that is likely to attract the same people as your event.  It is not essential to hold your event on 8 March.
  • Speaker:
    1. It is wise to approach and confirm a speaker as soon as possible, especially if you want someone nationally well-known who may have other commitments.
    2. Often a local speaker is asked because of her own expertise and interests and that will be the best drawcard.
    3. Some will have an obvious topic for an address, others will welcome suggestions.  A topic that sits well with the IWD theme for the year is preferable.  We may be able to help find a speaker.
  • Venue:
    1. Think about the maximum numbers you want to accommodate and how you would like to seat them.
    2. Round tables of 8-10 are ideal, so long as everyone has a clear view of the speaker.
    3. Can you have early access to set up? What sort of food will be provided (cost is usually a factor here) and should you have a vegetarian option? Will you need presentation equipment – microphone, whiteboard, power point facilities – and if so, will they be provided at the venue or do you need to hire them? What about a display table for UN Women information and information about your own organisation? Can you display posters?  Some venues will not permit tape or pins but will permit blue tack: some will allow posters to be displayed in certain positions only.
    4. Check for easy car parking nearby if there will not be enough at the venue
  • Finance:
    1. Usually the most important thing here is the cost of the venue and catering. Once you have established the cost of the event you can decide on the price of tickets. You may like to offer a concession for students (some organisers obtain sponsorship for student attendance), or for full table bookings.
    2. Decide what account to use for transactions and make sure that all transactions are made through that account.
    3. If you are organising a large event, it may be a good idea to open a special account for it.
    4. Sponsorship can be sought for almost any aspect of the event, but local businesses are often willing to help with printing costs, local publicity, raffle or spot prizes.
    5. Think about a cut-off date for ticket sales – and don’t worry if sales seem to be slow.  There always seems to be a last-minute rush to buy tickets.
    6. Decide how to allocate profits.  Most of those who organise IWD events donate the profits to UN Women National Committee Aotearoa NZ as it is the only large fund-raising exercise we undertake.  However if you would normally run an event to raise funds for another project and do not have the resources to run two events, you may want to consider splitting the profits or “ring-fencing” raffle proceeds for the project.


  • Invitations:
    1. You may have contact lists from previous events you can use, and on request we will provide contact details for any local UN Women members.
    2. If you are starting from scratch, it may be as well to have a brainstorming session – think about individuals in your community but also all local women’s NGOs and other organisations eg Rotary; MPs, Mayor & councillors, community organisations, ethnic communities, banks, businesses/ corporations, senior girls & staff of secondary schools, tertiary institutes.
    3. Decide whether you want a women-only event or whether men will also be invited. Invitations should be designed so that they can be sent by email as well as by post.
    4. You may want to open a PO box for responses or to use one already in place.  Include phone and email contacts for enquiries.
  • Publicity:
    1. Contact your local newspaper and radio station well in advance. Community newspapers are a good source of publicity, but check their deadlines – they often need the information a long way ahead.
    2. Post the details of the event on your website, and send them to UN Women NZ for posting on the national website.
    3. We will advise the deadline for information to go into the UN Women NZ newsletter.  It is usually late January or early February.
  • On the day:
    1. Arrange for someone to be at the venue well before the scheduled start time in case of last minute problems.
    2. If you are setting up on the day, it pays to allow more time than you think you will need.
    3. If the way to the venue is not obvious, station someone at a suitable point to direct guests as they arrive, or arrange signage.
    4. Detail someone to meet the speaker and any special guests.
    5. If you are selling tickets at the door, or holding a raffle, put a trustworthy person in charge of the cash and make sure you have plenty of change available.
    6. You will need someone to introduce the speaker and someone to thank her at the end of the proceedings.
    7. This is often a good opportunity to promote your organization, and/or UN Women NZ, or to have a secondary speaker, but make sure that whoever is involved knows how long they are expected to speak and what topics they are expected to cover.
  • Afterwards:
    1. Write letters of thanks to sponsors, speakers and anyone else who has put particular time or effort into the event.
    2. Pay all accounts before forwarding donations.
    3. Keep a note of anything that you would like to do differently in future events.
    4. Fill in and return our feedback form – this helps our forward planning.