What is International Women’s Day?
It’s a day that women around the world acknowledge in celebration of working women and women’s struggles everywhere… But do you know the history of the day?
International Women’s Day (IWD) is a holiday celebrated worldwide every year on March 8th, which celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity – the state of being equal, especially in regards to status and pay.
IWD has been observed ever since the early 1900s, which was a time of great expansion and turbulence in the industrialised world that saw booming population growth and the rise of radical ideologies.
It’s important to note that no one government, NGO, charity, corporation, academic institution, women’s network, media hub or political party is responsible for the creation and maintenance of International Women’s Day. In fact each year, many organisations declare an annual IWD theme that supports their specific agenda or cause.
“The story of women’s struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organisation but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights”, Gloria Steinem, world-renowned feminist, journalist and social and political activist.
IWD is all about celebration, reflection, advocacy and action and one thing is for sure, IWD has been occurring for over a century, and grows annually from strength to strength.
History of IWD
1908: Unrest and critical debate occurred amongst women, as oppression and inequality spurred them to become more vocal and active in campaigning for change. In 1908, over 15,000 women marched through New York City in the United States of America to demand shorter hours, better pay and voting rights.
1909: The first National Woman’s Day (NWD) was observed across the USA on 28th February.
1910: A woman named Clara Zetkin, leader of the Women’s Office for the Social Democratic Party in Germany, proposed the idea of an International Women’s Day. She stated that on the same day, every year, in every country, women should be celebrated and be able to press for their demands.
It was here that the International Women’s Day as we know it began.
1911: IWD was honoured for the first time in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland. More than 1 million women and men attended IWD rallies to campaign for women’s rights to work, vote, be trained and to hold public office and end discrimination.
1913-1914: On the eve of World War I campaigning for peace, Russian women observed their first IWD. It was this year that IWD was transferred to March 8th, the date which we celebrate today.
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1975: IWD was celebrated for the first time by the United Nations.
1996: The UN commenced the adoption of an annual theme, beginning with “celebrating the past, planning for the future”.
2001: The global IWD website and digital hub for everything to do with IWD was launched, and re-energised the day as an important platform to celebrate the successful achievements of women, and to continue calls for accelerating gender parity.
2011: This year saw the 100 year centenary of IWD, which was then celebrated by the likes of USA President Barack Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and celebrity activist Annie Lennox in the UK all initiating various campaigns and awareness features to help support IWD and women around the world.
2016: A global web of rich and diverse local activity connects women from all around the world, and currently IWD is actually an official holiday in many countries including Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, China, Cuba, Georgia, Eritrea, Kazakhstan, Laos, Moldova, Mongolia, Nepal, Russia, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, Vietnam, Zambia and more! via expatwoman.com