Question: Why do we celebrate International Women’s Day?
Answer: To celebrate the achievements of women and pledge for gender equality – The World Economic Forum predicted in 2015 that it would take until 2133 to achieve global gender parity
International Women’s day is a global day on March 8 every year which celebrates the economic, social, cultural and political achievements of all women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity (equality).
International Women’s Day (IWD) has been observed as early as the 1900’s. These times had great expansion and turbulence in the industrialized world which saw massive population growth and the rise of radical ideologies.
World-renowned feminist, social and political activist and journalist Gloria Steinem says “The story of women’s struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organization but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights,”. This day is about celebration, encouragement, action and reflection.
International Women’s day has been occurring for over a century – and continues to grow annually with more strength.
Here is a short history of the day:
- 1909 – The first National Woman’s Day was observed in the United States on 28 February. Women protested against working conditions.
- 1910 – The Socialist International, meeting in Copenhagen, established a Women’s Day, international in character, honouring the movement for women’s rights and to build support for achieving universal suffrage for women.
- 1911 – International Women’s Day was marked for the first time (19 March) in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland, where more than one million people attended rallies, demanding women’s rights to work, to vocational training and to an end to discrimination on the job in addition to the right to vote and to hold public office.
- 1913-1914 – International Women’s Day also became an instrument for protesting World War I where people held rallies to protest the war or express solidarity with other activists. 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.
- 1917 – Women in Russia again chose to protest and strike for “Bread and Peace” on the last Sunday in February (8 March). Four days later, the Czar abdicated and the provisional Government granted women the right to vote.
- 1975 -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.
Are you celebrating International Women’s Day? Let us know.