International Women’s Day has always been celebrated on March 8, no big deal there, right? Wrong! Whilst many may have taken this day for granted, there’s more to IWD than meets the eye. International Women’s Day is all about unity, celebration, reflection, struggles, rights advocacy, action and giving women a voice in a male-dominated world.
Indeed, there are several values to note about this important day for celebrating women socially, economically and culturally all over the world, but here are 9 questions that you may have wondered about:
- What gave women a voice?
IWD was born out of turbulence. Women started fighting for their rights back in Feb. 28, 1908 when about 15,000 women marched through New York City demanding shorter hours, better pay, and the right to vote, which was consistent with the industrial revolution that excluded women at that time.
- What was it originally called?
Evolving from the National Woman’s Day (NWD) in accordance with a declaration by the Socialist Party of America, it was originally called International Working Women’s Day (IWWD). Today, it is globally known as the International Women’s Day (IWD)
- How did the rest of the world become involved?
Clara Zetkin, Leader of the ‘Women’s Office’ for the Social Democratic Party in Germany, was the first woman to propose the idea that an International Women’s Day be celebrated every year, in every country, where women can press for their rights at the conference of Socialist Women.
- Why March 8?
March 8 was chosen, to commemorate the women’s equality march for “Bread and Peace” in Petrograd, Russia, in 1913. This sparked the Russian Revolution in 1917.
- When was IWD first celebrated by the UN?
International Women’s Day was celebrated for the first time by the United Nations in 1975.
- Which countries hosted IWD as an event?
The first IWD event held over a 100 years ago in 1911 in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland.
- What Remarkable Events have taken place since its Inception?
In 2011, the IWD marked a centenary (100 years) since its official take-off in 1911. To commemorate this milestone, President Barack Obama proclaimed March 2011 to be “Women’s History Month”, calling Americans to mark IWD by reflecting on “the extraordinary accomplishments of women” in shaping the country’s history.
The then Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton launched the “100 Women Initiative: Empowering Women and Girls through International Exchanges”. In the United Kingdom, celebrity activist, Annie Lennox also led a terrific march across one of London’s iconic bridges raising awareness in support for global charity Women for Women International.
- How widely accepted is the event?
IWD is now celebrated in more than a 100 countries and is an official holiday in Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, China (for women only), Cuba, Georgia, Guinea-Bissau, Eritrea, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Madagascar (for women only), Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, and Nepal (for women only).
- Other women movements the IWD has spiraled into?
IWD is also known as the United Nations (UN) Day for Women’s Rights and International Peace