A day for women - since early 1900s
International Women's Day has been observed since in the early 1900s,
a time of great expansion and turbulence in the industrialised world
that saw booming population growth and the rise of radical ideologies.
The1908 Great unrest and critical debate was occurring among women.
Women's oppression and inequality was spurring women to become more
vocal and active in campaigning for change. Then in 1908, 15,000 women
marched through New York City demanding shorter hours, better pay and
In accordance with a declaration by the Socialist Party of America, the
first National Woman's Day (NWD) was observed across the United States
on February 28. Women continued to celebrate NWD on the last Sunday of
February until 1913.
1910: In 1910 a second International Conference of Working Women was
held in Copenhagen. A woman named a Clara Zetkin (Leader of the 'Women's
Office' for the Social Democratic Party in Germany) tabled the idea of
an International Women's Day. She proposed that every year in every
country there should be a celebration on the same day - a Women's Day -
to press for their demands.
The conference of over 100 women from 17 countries, representing
unions, socialist parties, working women's clubs, and including the
first three women elected to the Finnish parliament, greeted Zetkin's
suggestion with unanimous approval and thus International Women's Day
was the result.
1911: Following the decision agreed at Copenhagen in 1911,
International Women's Day (IWD) was honoured the first time in Austria,
Denmark, Germany and Switzerland on March 19.
More than one million women and men attended IWD rallies campaigning
for women's rights to work, vote, be trained, to hold public office and
1913-1914: On the eve of World War I campaigning for peace, Russian
women observed their first International Women's Day on the last Sunday
in February 1913. In 1913 following discussions, International Women's
Day was transferred to March 8 and this day has remained the global date
for International Women's Day ever since. In 1914 further women across
Europe held rallies to campaign against the war and to express women's
1918 - 1999: Since its birth in the socialist movement, International
Women's Day has grown to become a global day of recognition and
celebration across developed and developing countries alike.
For decades, IWD has grown from strength to strength annually. For
many years the United Nations has held an annual IWD conference to
coordinate international efforts for women's rights and participation in
social, political and economic processes. 1975 was designated as
'International Women's Year' by the United Nations. Women's
organisations and governments around the world have also observed IWD
annually on March 8 by holding large-scale events that honour women's
advancement and while diligently reminding of the continued vigilance
and action required to ensure that women's equality is gained and
maintained in all aspects of life.
2000: And beyond IWD is now an official holiday in Afghanistan,
Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, China (for women
only), Cuba, Georgia, Guinea-Bissau, Eritrea, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan,
Laos, Madagascar (for women only), Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Nepal
(for women only), Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine,
Uzbekistan, Vietnam and Zambia.
The tradition sees men honouring their mothers, wives, girlfriends
and colleagues, with flowers and small gifts. In some countries IWD has
the equivalent status of Mother's Day where children give small presents
to their mothers and grandmothers.
Annually on March 8, thousands of events are held throughout the
world to inspire women and celebrate achievements. A global web of rich
and diverse local activity connects women from all around the world
ranging from political rallies, business conferences, and government
activities and networking events through to local women's craft markets,
theatric performances, fashion parades and more.
Many global corporations have also started to more actively support
IWD by running their own internal events and through supporting external
For example, on March 8 search engine and media giant Google some
years even changes its logo on its global search pages.
Year on year IWD is certainly improving in status. The United States
even designates the whole month of March as 'Women's History Month'.
So make a difference, think globally and act locally! Make everyday
International Women's Day. Do your bit to ensure that the future for
girls is bright, equal, safe and rewarding.
- The internationalwomensday.com