INTERNATIONAL Women’s Day (IWD) is back for another year to celebrate women worldwide this Thursday.

There are a number of celebrations being held across Gwent for the day, which will also mark the hundredth anniversary of women over the age of 30 being given the right to vote.

The festivities follow a report from the World Economic Forum in 2017 which found gender parity is still more than 200 years away, and the mood for change is encapsulated in this year’s theme, ‘Press for Progress’, which calls for people to ‘motivate and unite friends, colleagues and whole communities to think, act and be gender inclusive.’

The push for gender equality has gained steam in recent months, following a series of revelations about abuse and gender inequality in several sectors of society.

Perhaps the most notable were the allegations of sexual abuse and misogyny in Hollywood and US media, these included allegation against prominent figures such as movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, and television news anchor Matt Lauer.

This was part of the larger #MeToo movement, which in turn led to the creation of #TimesUp, specifically targeting sexual harassment.

The movement has also sought to address inequality on other fronts, including the gender pay disparity, and the UK government announced that all organisations with at least 250 employees will have to report their gender pay gap by April.

A report from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) found the gap for full-time employees to be 9.1 per cent, representing an improvement from 17.4 per cent in 1997, when records began.

However, in November it was found that Wales had the widest wage disparity in the UK, with Blaenau Gwent coming top with a difference of £4.53 per hour, in favour of men.

The biggest IWD event in Gwent will take place this Thursday and Friday at the Riverfront in Newport.

As part of the event, there will be films, performances, guest speakers, demonstrations and panels, with keynote speakers including Natalie Cutler, founder of entertainment company EntreprenHER.

Highlights include Not Yet Suffragette, a one-woman comedy show performed by Ms Culter, as well as her film Not in Vain, which looks at the British pageant scene and the darker side of how beauty is viewed in India.

Speaking to the Argus, Ms Cutler highlighted the importance of International Women’s Day, and events such as the talks being held at the Riverfront.

She said: “I think International Women’s Day is a great start in the journey towards educating people on gender equality and it does generate a lot of press and awareness, but we need to ensure it doesn’t become pigeonholed to one day a year.

“Gender equality should be something that is discussed every day until it's a reality.

“I think education and opening your mind to new thoughts and perspectives is always healthy - especially if you want to win the arguments at the dinner table.

“I’m a big believer in that you never stop learning.

“Some people think that once you’ve finished school that’s it - but no, that’s not it.

“You have to stay connected to society and it’s growth, and what is developing around you - these talks are a great example of how to do that.”

Ms Cutler also spoke of her work, and how it ties into this year’s theme of ‘Press for Progress’.

“This year’s theme reminds me of where we started before I was even born - with Emmeline Pankhurst’s 'Deeds not Words,' "she said.

“Again its championing the idea that if we want real change we have to act on it, we have to press for it, not just talk about it.

“Not Yet Suffragette is a comedy piece on how ‘not far’ women have come since winning the first vote a century ago and the gender issues we still face even today.

“I created Not in Vain to show the side of pageantry the public never get to see.

“The women that take part in Miss Universe are all feminists with a capital F, making strikes in their own industries.

“They recognise that the competition helps them grow as women, so they can in turn help other women become more empowered, that’s why they take part.

“I hope my work which will feature at the Riverfront will show just how much dedication I put into striving to make sure now and future generations are inspired to have a seat at that all important table.”

Elsewhere, the Monmouth Women’s Festival continues into it’s 15th year, beginning on Wednesday and concluding this Saturday, March 10.

Events include talks with actress Sunny Ormonde and food writer Lindy Wildsmith, a performance from Monmouth Rock Choir, and even a rugby match.

It concludes with a performance from storytellers Cat Weatherill and Naomi Paul.

Committee member Hilary Moriarty stressed the importance of International Women’s Day, and events like the festival.

She said: “The Monmouth programme for the Women’s Festival includes women entertainers like Sunny Ormonde, known to many listeners as The Archers outrageous Lillian Bellamy, a reminder that being outrageous may not be such a bad thing; similarly, the festival’s conclusion will be an evening of comedy, stories and song from Cat Weatherill and Naomi Paul, performance storytellers.

“This year, public events have reminded us all more than ever that although women have come a long way, there is still a long way to go - and that is the progress we should all be pressing for.

“Improvement in women’s lives is one thing, but there is no room for complacency even in 21st century women - International Women’s Day reminds us that women worldwide still suffer oppression, degradation and even slavery.

“The programme for Monmouth marks International Women’s Day with four days of events celebrating the achievements of women locally and internationally.

“Women have undoubtedly come a long way, and the festival is a celebration of all they have achieved - it is also a reminder that there is still much to be done.

“Women’s fingers are on the buttons - they just need to keep pushing.”

Another celebration will be taking place this Friday evening, where Monmouth Transition Towns are hosting a panel in Shire Hall, Monmouth, from 6.30pm to 9pm.

The event called ‘100 Years on and we’re not finished yet’ commemorates the 100th anniversary of the first women who received the right to vote in the UK. The event is sponsored by the Women’s Equality Network (WEN), and will features six speakers including Newport East MP Jessica Morden, Love Zimbabwe founder Martha Musonza-Holman, and WEN president Catherine Fookes.