International Women’s day is celebrated annually on March 08. The best part about this day is that it is not confined to any country, organization or group specific, it belongs to all groups collectively everywhere. This day also marks for call to action for accelerating gender parity. There is no one government, NGO, charity, academic institution, women’s network or media who is solely responsible for International Women’s day. There are many organizations who declare an annual IWD theme that supports their specific agenda or cause, and some of these are adopted more widely with relevance than others.
International Women's Day is a collective day of global celebration and a call for gender parity. It is all about unity, celebration, reflection, advocacy and action - whatever that looks like globally at a local level. But one thing is for sure, International Women's Day has been occurring for well over a century - and continues to grow from strength to strength. Learn about the values that guide IWD's ethos.
What is the history of International Women’s Day?
1909 : The first National Woman's Day was observed in the United States on 28 February. The Socialist Party of America designated this day in honor of the 1908 garment workers' strike in New York, where women protested working conditions.
1910 : The Socialist International, meeting in Copenhagen, established a Women's Day, international in character, to honor the movement for women's rights and to build support for achieving universal suffrage for women. The proposal was greeted with unanimous approval by the conference of over 100 women from 17 countries, which included the first three women elected to the Finnish Parliament. No fixed date was selected for the observance.
1911 : As a result of the Copenhagen initiative, International Women's Day was marked for the first time (19 March) in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland, where more than one million women and men attended rallies. In addition to the right to vote and to hold public office, they demanded women's rights to work, to vocational training and to an end to discrimination on the job.
1913-1914 : International Women's Day also became a mechanism for protesting World War I. As part of the peace movement, Russian women observed their first International Women's Day on the last Sunday in February. Elsewhere in Europe, on or around 8 March of the following year, women held rallies either to protest the war or to express solidarity with other activists.
1917 : Against the backdrop of the war, women in Russia again chose to protest and strike for "Bread and Peace" on the last Sunday in February (which fell on 8 March on the Gregorian calendar). Four days later, the Czar abdicated, and the provisional Government granted women the right to vote.
1975 : During International Women's Year, the United Nations began celebrating International Women's Day on 8 March.
1995 : The Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, a historic roadmap signed by 189 governments, focused on 12 critical areas of concern, and envisioned a world where each woman and girl can exercise her choices, such as participating in politics, getting an education, having an income, and living in societies free from violence and discrimination.
2014 : The 58th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW58) – the annual gathering of States to address critical issues related to gender equality and women’s rights — focused on “Challenges and achievements in the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals for women and girls”. UN entities and accredited NGOs from around the world took stock of progress and remaining challenges towards meeting the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The MDGs have played an important role in galvanizing attention on and resources for gender equality and women’s empowerment.
2015 : In 2015, countries adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Goal 5 is “Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.
What color signifies International Women’s Day?
Purple is a color for symbolizing women. Historically the combination of purple, green and white to symbolize women's equality originated from the Women's Social and Political Union in the UK in 1908. Purple signifies justice and dignity. Green symbolizes hope. White represents purity but is no longer used due to 'purity' being a controversial concept.
So, make International Women's Day your day and do what you can to truly make a positive difference for women.