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What to know about International Women's Day 2022: Theme, history and more

The 2022 theme for International Women's Day might be why you're seeing photos of crossed arms on social media.

WASHINGTON — Have you seen photos on social media of people crossing their arms in an "x" shape? It's part of this year's International Women's Day celebration. 

The day has been observed in some form for more than a century. Its current purpose is to celebrate women's achievements and the fight for equality -- and the message is spread through new campaign themes each year.

This year, the International Women's Day theme is #BreakTheBias. 

"Whether deliberate or unconscious, bias makes it difficult for women to move ahead," the IWD website states. "Knowing that bias exists isn't enough. Action is needed to level the playing field."

The United Nations also announces themes for International Women's Day. For 2022, it focuses on women in the context of climate change: "Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow."

"Women are increasingly being recognized as more vulnerable to climate change impacts than men, as they constitute the majority of the world’s poor and are more dependent on the natural resources which climate change threatens the most," the UN's website states. 

The UN's International Women's Day theme calls for women and girls "to have a voice and be equal players in decision-making related to climate change and sustainability."

Here's what to know about International Women's Day 2022. 

When is International Women's Day? 

International Women's Day is celebrated every year on March 8. 

What is the history of International Women's Day?

The first National Women's Day was celebrated on February 28, 1909. The United Nations says it was designated by the Socialist Party of America to honor women in the garment industry who went on strike in New York to protest working conditions. 

In 1910, attendees at the second International Conference of Working Women, a gathering of women from activist and political organizations in Copenhagen, approved the idea of an international day for women. Several European countries observed the day the next year on March 19.

The earliest International Women's Day events included rallies for the right to vote and against gender discrimination, as well as women's anti-war protests and strikes in Russia. March 8 was picked for the holiday's official date as it lined up with Russian women's first observances of the day -- Russia used a different calendar system at the time. 

The UN officially recognized International Women's Day in 1975. 

The IWD website provides a detailed timeline of the day's history on its website.