Recognizing International Women’s Day



World map highlighting recent steps toward equality for women and some of the issues yet to be dealt with; International Women’s Day is celebrated worldwide March 8. DIVERSITY (WOMEN) MCT

Sergio Lopez, Staff Writer

Today is International Women’s day, a global day celebrating the achievements of women. This day is also a call to action for gender equality.

International Women’s Day (IWD) rose in the early 1990s during a time of expansion in a industrialized growth of population. This day was originally called International Working Women’s Day, but after the working women became the norm the name changed. Below is a short timeline of the history behind today.


National Women’s Day: A Timeline

1908: Unrest was occurring amongst women. Women’s suppression and inequality was provoking women to become more vocal and active in making a change. Then in 1908, 15,000 women marched through New York City demanding shorter hours, better pay and voting rights.

1909:The Socialist Party of America brought up the first National Woman’s Day (NWD)  which was observed across the United States on the 28th of February. Women continued to celebrate NWD on the last Sunday of February until 1913.

1910: In 1910 a International Conference of Working Women was held in Copenhagen. A woman named Clara Zetkin (Leader of the ‘Women’s Office’ for the Social Democratic Party in Germany) brought up the idea of an International Women’s Day. The conference had over 100 women from 17 countries, representing unions, socialist parties, working women’s clubs – and including the first three women elected to the Finnish parliament. Zetkin’s suggestion was met with unanimous approval and thus International Women’s Day was the result.

1911: Following the decision agreed at Copenhagen in 1911, International Women’s Day was honored the first time in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland on 19 March. More than one million women and men attended IWD rallies campaigning for women’s rights and end discrimination. However, on March 25th, the tragic ‘Triangle Fire’ in New York City took the lives of more than 140 working women, most of them Italian and Jewish immigrants. This disastrous event drew significant attention to working conditions and labour legislation in the United States that became a focus of International Women’s Day events.

1913-1914: The day before World War I , Russian women campaigning for peace observed their first International Women’s Day on the last Sunday in February. In 1913, International Women’s Day was transferred to 8 March and this day has remained the global date for International Women’s Day ever since. In 1914 further women across Europe held rallies to campaign against the war and to express women’s solidarity.

1975: International Women’s Day was celebrated for the first time by the United Nations in 1975. Then, in December 1977, the General Assembly 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.

2011: 2011 saw the 100 year centenary of International Women’s Day – with the first IWD event held exactly 100 years ago in 1911 in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland. In the United States, 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”.

2016- And Years to Come: 

The world has seen a significant change and shift in how society thinks about women’s equality. Younger generations may feel that ‘all the battles have been won for women’ while many older feminists know that the war isn’t over. With an increase of women’s visibility as role models in every aspect of life, it makes since why one may  think that women have gained true equality. The unfortunate fact is that women are still not paid equally to that of their male counterparts, women still are not present in equal numbers in business or politics, and globally women’s education, health and the violence against them is worse than that of men. However, great improvements have been made. IWD is an official holiday in many countries including 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, Nepal (for women only), Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Vietnam and Zambia. On this day around the country people see men honoring their mothers, wives, girlfriends, colleagues, etc with flowers and small gifts even In some countries IWD has the equivalent status of Mother’s Day where children give small presents to their mothers and grandmothers.

So take the time to look up how women around the world are celebrating today and thank a women you know for being strong and accomplishing even the little things in life.