Saturday, March 12, 2011

History of International Women's Day

The History of International Women's Day

On March 8th of this week this was celebrated.
GENDER FACTS - Global Issues:
- Globally women account for the majority of people aged over 60 and over 80
- World population - 6,872,741,131
- Of 1.2 billion people living in poverty worldwide, 70% are women
- 80% of the world's 27 million refugees are women
- Women own around only 1% of the world's land
- AIDS sees women's life expectancy of 43 in Uganda and Zambia
- Women are 2/3 of the 1 billion+ illiterate adults who have no access to basic education

International Women's Day has been observed since in the early 1900's, a time of great expansion and turbulence in the industrialized world that saw booming population growth and the rise of radical ideologies.

- 15,000 women marched through New York City demanding shorter hours, better pay and voting rights.

 - 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 28 February. Women continued to celebrate NWD on the last Sunday of February until 1913.

1910 - A woman named a Clara Zetkin (Leader of the 'Women's Office' for the Social Democratic Party in Germany) 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 -
on 25 March, the tragic 'Triangle Fire' in New York City took the lives of more than 140 working women, most of them Italian and Jewish immigrants. This disastrous event drew significant attention to working conditions and labor legislation in the United States that became a focus of subsequent International Women's Day events. 1911 also saw women's 'Bread and Roses' campaign. 

1913-1914 - 
International Women's Day was transferred to 8 March 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 solidarity.

1918 - 1999
- International Women's Day has grown to become a global day of recognition and celebration across developed and developing countries alike. 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.

2000 - and beyond
IWD is now an official holiday in Albania, Algeria, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, China, Cuba, Georgia, Hungary, Italy, Israel, Laos, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Macedonia, Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Tajikistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Vietnam. The tradition sees men honoring their mothers, wives, girlfriends, colleagues, etc 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.

Women are still not paid equally to that of their male counterparts, women still are not present in equal numbers in business or politics, and globally women's education, health and the violence against them is worse than that of men.

Annually on 8 March, 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, government activities and networking events through to local women's craft markets, theatrical performances, fashion parades and more.


I recently learned that in Russia, every year on March 8, the men and children purchase roses for women in order to express their appreciation. I really like that idea – so men, give as many compliments as you can to women on that date – roses would also be appreciated :-)

You may have noticed that several countries are missing from the 'Official Holiday' list. I also have noticed in the past that March 8th usually passes without much fanfare in the United States but I am glad that the month of March has been designated as Women's History Month.

During this month I will be writing about some women who I personally admire, so stay tuned!

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