Women today are at part with men. Whether it’s aviation, medical, engineering, hospitality, teaching, politics, media, racing or any other profession or any other industry there is probably no arena where women have not marked their presence yet, and have not excelled. Not to forget, they have managed all this while pushing the rigid social barriers over the years, and nurturing a family in the role of a wife, sister, mother or friend.
For all their countless achievements, endless struggles, fights for equal rights, International Women’s Day is a small gesture to celebrate this big feat. Let’s take a look at the history of this day.
It all started when National Women’s Day was celebrated in United States on February 28th, 1909. The Socialist Party of America marked this day in honor of the 1908 garment workers’ strike in New York, where women protested against the pathetic working conditions. From here, there was no looking back.
In 1910, the Socialist International meeting in Copenhagen established a Women’s Day, to honor the movement for women’s rights, including the right to vote in political elections. This proposal was also greeted with unanimous approval by the International Women’s Conference that was held in the same year, and had over 100 women from 17 countries. No date was finalized for the day yet, but a wave of change had surely kicked in.
The Copenhagen initiative helped to take the matter to the next level. The International Women’s Day was marked for the first time on 19 March 1911 in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland. It witnessed participation of more than one million women and men who attended the rallies. In addition to the right to vote and to hold public office, they demanded women’s rights to work, vocational training and an end to discrimination on the job. It caused a major uproar, and witnessed people (irrespective of their gender) coming together to support the movement.
International Women’s Day also became a way to protest against the World War I. Women held rallies in large numbers across Europe and Russia to express their solidarity with other activists, and denounce the war.
The year of 1917 witnessed another significant movement, women in Russia went on strike for “Bread and Peace” on the last Sunday in February (which fell on 8 March on the Gregorian calendar). They demanded the end of World War I, Russian food shortages, and downfall of czarism. What happened next, made history! Four days later, the Czar was finally dethroned, and the provisional Government granted women the right to vote.
And from 1975, United Nations began celebrating on March 8.