Women’s Day is an international celebration of the contribution of women. It is an international festival, decided by the United Nations, and it is celebrated on 8th March annually. However it’s celebrated more in some countries than others for cultural, technological and other indirectly sexist reasons. It’s an important part of the women’s rights movement and the feminist movement and its history goes back to many years than one would have thought.
The first International Women’s Day was ‘officially’ honoured in 1911! It was celebrated in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland on 19 March and over a million people, both men and women, joined rallies to campaign for women’s rights. Even earlier, on 28th February 1909, a National Women’s Day was observed in the United States of America. They continued to celebrate National Women’s Day in America on the last Sunday of February till 1913. In 1913, Russian women also celebrated their first International Women’s Day on the last Sunday of February according to their Julian calendar.
However in Germany and London in 1914, International Women’s Day was observed on March 8th. For the time of the two World Wars and their aftermaths some countries celebrated it more than others on various dates. This time saw protests on many different social evils worldwide along with lots of changes to women’s rights.
In 1975 the United Nations (UN) adopted a resolution proclaiming a United Nations Day for Women’s Rights and International Peace to be observed on any day of the year by Member States, in accordance with their historical and national traditions. In 1977 they invited its members to proclaim March 8 as the UN Day for women’s rights and world peace.
Unfortunately the buzz around gender equality seemed lower by the turn of the century but in 2011, 100 years since the first official International Women’s Day celebration, the celebration of the day has picked up pace again with the new rise of feminism and the media highlighting women’s issues.
Significance and Importance
Think for a minute- are women and men treated equally wherever you live? If you live on Earth, chances are there is you have noticed the inequality and if you haven’t you should deeply think about how those around you treat the different genders differently. Though things have improved for women, it’s mostly because of several movements that gained momentum and put pressure on society to rethink its values and governments to rethink its policies.
International Woman’s day is but a part of that. It assigned a day for the world to give attention to a problem and, over 100 years ago, gave people a day to protest against the sexist laws in place. Looking back, we can see a lot has changed. However, it’s also clear that we still have a long way to go. International Woman’s day is a good day to highlight issues that need to be addressed and to celebrate how far we’ve come in terms of gender equality.
This year the theme is on the importance of balance. Using the hashtag #BalanceforBetter, it aims to highlight that Women’s day and all the feminist movements is to promote a balance of genders in the world.