Though a lot more still has to be done to achieve true gender equality in football, great strides are already being taken by organisations and clubs within the industry around International Women's Day (IWD) to celebrate the women's game.
Goal has rounded up some of the most memorable ways in which football is celebrating IWD, from adorning the backs of their jerseys with the names of women who have inspired them most or launching an initiative to encourage more women to take up careers in football management and coaching .
What is International Women's Day ?
International Women's Day is an annual celebration focusing on the movement and progress for women's rights. Observed every year on March 8, it is a day dedicated to honouring women, their achievements throughout history and assessing how much more work needs to be done to achieve gender equality in fields all over.
IWD was founded when the Socialist Party of America organised a Women's Day on February 28, 1909 in New York. A year later in 1910, the International Socialist Women's Conference pitched the idea of an annual Women's Day. Following women gaining suffrage in Soviet Russia in 1917, IWD became a national holiday. The idea then snowballed, and IWD has since been celebrated by the socialist movement and communist countries until it was officially adopted in 1975 by the United Nations.
"Throughout ancient and modern history, women have collaborated and led purposeful action to redress inequality in the hope of a better future for their communities, children and themselves," reads the statement made on the official IWD website . "Whether through bold, well-documented action or through humble resistance that never made it into the history books, women have united for equality and achievement forever.
"And along the way, one particularly powerful collaboration led to the formation of a globally united moment for women across countries to come together in hope and action. That moment is 'International Women's Day'."
While International Women's Day is celebrated in certain (predominantly Western) countries, however, it is still largely ignored elsewhere .
How football is celebrating International Women's Day
To celebrate IWD, the U.S. women's national team swapped their regular kits featuring their own names for jerseys embossed with the names of female heroes who have inspired them as they took on England in the SheBelieves Cup in March 2019.
The USWNT players chose a female idol to adorn the back of their shirt, and the results ranged from groundbreaking political figures to women involved in arts, culture and sport.
Defender Becky Sauerbrunn’s jersey honoured the legendary Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who has worked tirelessly across her prolific career to advocate for the advancement of gender equality and women's rights. Megan Rapinoe chose poet and civil rights activist Audre Lorde, Ashlyn Harris chose Cardi B and Mallory Pugh selected Beyonce.
Said Pugh of her choice: "She [Beyonce] is confident and is just a good role model for women in general because she represents something that is so much bigger than herself.
"She's inspiring in her industry and all over the world. She is a person who allows and shows women that they can be who they are and flaunt it."
“[Audre Lorde] was just unapologetically herself," Rapinoe explained. "She so beautifully and powerfully expressed all parts of herself and her experiences at once. She was a woman, a lesbian, a feminist, a person of colour, a civil rights activist and a poet. She understood so clearly that change does not come from playing by the existing set of rules."
The likes of Alex Morgan and Samantha Mewis turned to iconic former USWNT team-mates Abby Wambach and Mia Hamm respectively, while Crystal Dunn chose tennis icon Serena Williams. The full list can be found here .
Loftus-Cheek and Jorginho visit Chelsea Foundation girls’ tournament
Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Hannah Blundell and Jorginho surprised participants at a Chelsea Foundation girls' football tournament at Cobham training ground during the week of IWD, where more than 60 young women between 13 to 16 years old took part.
Loftus-Cheek and Chelsea Ladies' player Blundell visited the camp and got involved in the action and also participated in a Q&A session with the young female talents discussing their careers in football.
The Chelsea and England midfielder said : "It’s been good to get involved in the day and see the girls. It’s really important to do these type of things because I remember when I was a kid I didn’t get these type of opportunities.
"It’s important for us, as role models, to have an impact on the younger generation."
On the future of women's football, he added: "The women’s game has definitely grown, I’ve seen more coverage of it on the TV and you can see the level of the game has improved.
"We’ve also got the Women’s World Cup coming up this year so it’ll be good to see the coverage of that and hopefully it keeps on growing."
Manchester City women
To celebrate IWD, Man City are unveiling a photo exhibition to pay tribute to their women's team in celebration of a third Continental Cup victory.
The photo exhibition will be on display in St. Ann's Square in Manchester city centre from Friday, March 8 to Saturday, March 9. The photographs and artwork will showcase the hard work, passion and dedication of the club's female footballers.
The Man City women's team, which was relaunched in 2014, became the first FA Women's Super League (WSL) team to turn their players professional. They have enjoyed success since their inaugural season, having secured a spot in the Women's Champions League for the last three straight seasons.
Full information about the exhibition is available here .
Man City are also one of the few clubs to have fully integrated the social media channels of their senior men and women's team.
Rangers launching Women’s Modern Apprenticeships
Rangers announced that they will begin offering Modern Apprenticeships to Rangers Women's players ahead of IWD 2019, becoming the first club in Scotland to do so.
The initiative will fund up to 16 players from the Rangers Women's team and girls' academy aged 16 and 19. It will run for 12 months across the next three years, designed to serve as a route to professional football for the club's female players.
The apprenticeships will be aimed to equip players with full access to training, coaching, and match participation on a similar basis offered to their male counterparts employed by the club.
Rangers coach Steven Gerrard said : “I am delighted to support this initiative which will give young Rangers players a wonderful opportunity to develop their skills at an excellent facility and with a great club.
"The launch of modern apprenticeships for players in our women’s team will encourage young women and girls to get involved in football.”
Women and Child Welfare Department of Kerala
In a bid to advocate for gender equality, Women and Child Welfare Development of Kerala organised a game on March 2, 2019, where both boys and girls of school age participated in equal measures.
Sheeba George IAS, Director of the Women and Child Development Department said: "It is a part of Women's Day celebration that we have arranged gender-equal matches spreading the message of gender equality. Six girls and seven boys participated in each team."
"It was a great initiative and girls are no less than boys by any means. We enjoyed playing with our male counterparts," said Subah S, a female student.
"We have played various matches but playing with girls is my first experience. They played very well and football is not only a game of men," said Vineeth PB, student, Arts College, Trivandrum.
"The boys were very supportive and motivated us on the ground throughout the game," said Monisree Nair.
Camden Town Brewery & Camden Town
Camden Town Brewery and local ladies' team Camden Town have joined forces to celebrate IWD by honouring female icons from their local area of north London.
The brewery claimed that they have designed the world's first football kit work of art, illustrated by local artist Bodil Jane – paying tribute to women who have lived and been influenced by the London borough of Camden.
The likes of authors Sylvia Plath and Buchi Emechata OBE, modernist sculptor Dame Barbara Hepworth and suffragist Dame Millicent Garrett Fawcett GBE are all included in the design.
The shirt will be available to buy from Camden Town Brewery's bar, with all proceeds going towards the Fawcett Society charity.
Andre Amaral, marketing director at Camden Town Brewery, said, via the Evening Standard : "The Women of Camden kit reflects the creativity, diversity and inclusivity that has drawn people from all over the world to the borough for generations, and is inspired by the women of Camden’s past, for the women who live, work and play in Camden today.”
The shirts will be exclusives worn by Camden Town, who play in the Greater London Women’s Football League. Manager Pranay Dhanani said: "We couldn’t believe it when Camden Town Brewery got in touch with the idea.
"We are all about artistry and unity on the pitch, and supporting each other off the pitch. To play with the likes of Sylvia Plath and Millicent Fawcett on the team’s shirts gives us that extra piece of inspiration and motivation and makes us even prouder to represent Camden."
Barcelona women: #WeAreFootballers
The La Liga side have shared a campaign to promote gener equality through football with their #WeAreFootballers campaign, featuring the likes of Lieke Martens, Vicky Loada, Marta Torrejan and Leila Ouahabi.