First Women's Day celebration took place in 1911
What is special about International Women's Day this year?
This year, March 8, celebrated as International Women's Day
(IWD) marks 100 years of the declaration and observation of the first
International Women's day. The first official celebration of Women's Day happened
on March 19 in 1911 in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland. The decision to
observe an International Women's Day happened in 1910 at the second international
conference of working women held in Copenhagen. At the meeting, 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 of Women's
Day to press for various demands made by women. Zetkins suggestion was unanimously
approved and the decision was implemented for the first time the following year,
How did the idea of Women's day develop?
Towards the end of the 19th century, there was
a lot of turbulence in industrialized societies with women increasingly demonstrating
against oppressive working conditions, poor pay and inequality. This also coincided
with the rising demand by women for voting rights in various countries. In 1908,
15,000 women marched through New York City demanding shorter hours, better pay and
voting rights. In 1909, the Socialist Party of America declared that February 28
would be celebrated as the first National Women's Day across the country. Until
1913, the last Sunday of February was celebrated as National Women's Day in the
US. Fair wages and dignified conditions of work became the focus of many demonstrations
by women. Russian women campaigning for peace on the eve of World War I observed
their first IWD
on the last Sunday of February in 1913. However, in 1913, a common agreement was
reached and the IWD
was transferred to March 8.
How is the IWD celebrated?
is observed in over a hundred countries. In many countries including Afghanistan,
Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Cuba, Guinea-Bissau, Eritrea,
Kazakhstan, Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uganda,
Ukraine, Uzbekistan and Vietnam it is an official holiday.
In China, Nepal and Madagascar, it is a holiday only for women. In several countries,
it is customary for men to give the women in their lives, mothers, wives, girlfriends
or sisters, flowers and small gifts on the occasion. In some countries such as Romania
it is also observed as an equivalent of Mothers' Day, where children also give small
presents to their mothers and grandmothers. In Italy, men give yellow mimosas to
women. In Russia and Albania too, yellow mimosas and chocolate are the most common
gifts on March 8.