The history of international women’s day is something we all need to know. Many of us know that March 8th is the day to receive flowers, gifts and attention from men, but the actual meaning of that day is much more significant.
International Women’s Day is a holiday which celebrates the many achievements of women; achievements that were made in the social, economic, cultural, and political spheres. It is not as big of a deal in the United States as it is in Europe, especially the former Soviet Union.
The holiday is celebrated internationally on March 8th. All around the world, people gather to celebrate, hold rallies, conferences, marches, networking events, and more.
Women typically receive flowers and other gifts from their friends and family, and all women are congratulated on this day. Considering the fact that International Women’s Day is almost here, it is important to explore the history and deeper meaning of the holiday.
It is also important to understand that women should be respected and celebrated every day, not just on March 8th. Let’s learn more about the history of international women’s day.
The History of International Women’s Day
The holiday first began when, at the turn of the twentieth century, many women’s rights movements began to take place in the United States and Europe.
It is difficult to say how, when, and where it was first celebrated, but we can say that it was first observed in the United States in 1909 on February 28th, because during the previous year, women organized a worker’s strike in New York to protest against their working conditions.
Then, in 1910, Socialist International organized a meeting in Copenhagen, Denmark, to discuss the establishment of a holiday that would be a celebration of all women across the world, and would support the women’s rights movement and would seek to achieve women’s suffrage worldwide.
Clara Zetkin, the leader of the German Social Democratic Party, was the name of the woman who first came up with the idea of having an International Women’s Day, which would celebrate women and press for their demands to be put into place worldwide, and which would be celebrated on the same day all over the world.
Over 100 women from 17 countries approved of the establishment of such a holiday, but no date was agreed upon which would be International Women’s Day.
It was observed for the first time in several Western European countries- Austria, Denmark, Germany, and Switzerland- on March 19th, 1911, as a result of the conference in Copenhagen. Many women and men held rallies on this day to demand that women have the right to vote, hold public office, work, and for there to be an end to discrimination in the workplace.
The wave of women’s rights movement reached Russia too
In 1913 and 1914, many women used International Women’s Day to protest for peace during World War I. Russian women began to observe International Women’s Day on the last Sunday in February in support of the peace movement.
Others observed the holiday on March 8th, and on this day, they would hold rallies to protest for peace or to support peace activists worldwide. This is when most countries began the tradition of celebrating International Women’s Day specifically on March 8th.
1917 is when we can say that International Women’s Day was observed for the first time in Russia on March 8th in accordance with the Gregorian calendar. Women in Russia protested for “Bread and Peace.” Four days afterward, the Russian Czar abdicated his throne, and the new government which took place after him granted women in Russia the right to vote.
After this, it primarily began to be celebrated in socialist and communist nations. Vladimir Lenin and Alexandra Kollontai marked International Women’s Day as an official holiday in the Soviet Union.
In 1965, on May 8th, the Soviet Union declared March 8th a non-working holiday. It was meant to be celebrated just as other holidays were, and to celebrate Soviet women who contributed to the successes of their nation, who defended their Fatherland on the front and at home during World War II (known in the Soviet Union as the Great Patriotic War), and who fought for peace and friendship.
The United Nations recognized International Women’s Day for the first time in 1975. Two years later, in 1977, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted a resolution in which March 8th was declared a United Nations Day for Women’s Rights and International Peace. It was to be observed by all United Nations member states.
A historic roadmap was signed in 1995 by 189 different governments. It was called the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. There were 12 areas of concern, and the main focus of this was to seek that all women and girls across the world could live as they wish, whether that meant through participating in politics, having a job and therefore some sort of income, having an education and degree, and living in a society in which violence and discrimination did not prevail.
International Women’s Day in the Present
Ever since 1996, the United Nations declared that every year, International Women’s Day is to have a theme. The first theme International Women’s Day had was “Celebrating the Past, Planning for the Future.”
In 2017, the theme was “Women in the Changing World of Work: Planet 50-50 by 2030,” which sought to ensure that there would be no gender gap in the workplace by the year 2030. The online hashtag in 2017 was #BeBoldForChange. The theme for 2018 is called #PressforProgress.
According to the official International Women’s Day website, ensuring that there is gender equality and no gender gap in the workplace will, at the rate it is going now, take over 200 years to achieve, which is very distressing.
It says, though, that the good news is that rights for women all across the world are improving every day, and movements supporting women’s advocacy and activism are growing worldwide.
However, starting in 2000, the International Women’s Day celebrations began to dwindle in the Western world, because people’s focus began to shift away from women’s rights and achieving gender equality. So, in the following year, the International Women’s Day website was launched, which is currently used by millions of people to learn about the holiday and to spread advocacy.
The 100 year anniversary of the holiday being celebrated in Western Europe was observed in 2011, as it was celebrated 100 years prior in Germany, Denmark, Austria, and Switzerland for the first time. Then-President Barack Obama declared March Women’s History Month in the United States in 2011.
Women’s Day Now
International Women’s Day, March 8th, is considered an official holiday in several countries, such as:
Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, China (only for women), Cuba, Georgia, Guinea-Bissau, Eritrea, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Madagascar (only for women), Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Nepal (only for women), Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, and Zambia.
Men in these countries typically give their wives, girlfriends, mothers, sisters, daughters, and other important women in their lives flowers or other small gifts. Some countries celebrate International Women’s Day in a similar way to Mother’s Day, where children gove special cards or other small gifts to their mothers and grandmothers.
Is International Women’s Day Still Important?
Nowadays, many people are certain that women have achieved equality and there is no more work to be done. Of course, our world has come a long way in the past 100 years.
Just a century ago, women worldwide did not even have the right to vote or participate in a country’s political life. Now, we have women who are Prime Ministers, Senators, Presidents, and who are other high-ranking politicians in their countries. Now, it is acceptable for a woman to have a family and to have a very high-paying and good job.
It is acceptable for girls in school to aspire to get an education and have a bright future that doesn’t necessarily revolve around getting married and having a family.
However, in many countries, women’s education and health are in poor conditions, and are not accessible to some women. Violence against women has increased in some countries, too, and occurs more often against women than against men; 85 percent of domestic violence victims are women, whereas 15 percent are men.
There is also evidence of a pay gap in certain professions and in many countries. Women are still very underrepresented in politics and business. This is why we still need to celebrate International Women’s Day; to show that women are important, to empower women worldwide, to support women’s rights movements, and to encourage all women to follow all their dreams and desires.
It is important to remember the history of international women’s day
It is important to remember that women deserve to be respected each and every day, not just on a specific holiday designated for them. We deserve to live in a world where people are respected and honored for their merits, and not simply looked at for their gender.
Let’s hope that, with each passing International Women’s Day, women’s rights across the world continues to reach new heights and this world becomes a much safer place for all women.
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