International Women's Day is a global celebration of the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. It is a day dedicated to raising awareness of gender equality and gender equity (gender equity is about addressing historical and systemic disadvantages to ensure that everyone has access to the resources they need to succeed).
The Grass roots.
The roots of International Women's Day can be traced back to the early 20th century. In 1908, 15,000 brave women marched through the streets of New York City demanding shorter working hours, better pay, and the right to vote. This march was organised by the Socialist Party of America, and it was the first time that such a large group of women had come together to demand their rights.
The following year, in 1909, the first National Women's Day was observed in the United States on February 28th.
This day was designated to honour the one-year anniversary of the New York garment workers' strike, which had seen 15,000 women workers walking out of their jobs in protest against their working conditions. The success of this strike led to the formation of the Women's Trade Union League, which was dedicated to improving the working conditions and pay of female workers.
The first International Women’s Conference
In 1910, an International Women's Conference was held in Copenhagen, Denmark. The conference was attended by over 100 women from 17 different countries, including Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. At the conference, the idea of an annual International Women's Day was proposed by Clara Zetkin, a German socialist, and seconded by Rosa Luxemburg, another prominent socialist and feminist. The proposal was adopted unanimously, and the first International Women's Day was celebrated the following year, on March 19th.
The inaugural International Women's Day was marked by rallies and demonstrations across Europe, with women demanding the right to vote, hold public office, and work in professions traditionally reserved for men. In Russia, where the day was celebrated for the first time in 1913, women marched through the streets of St. Petersburg demanding an end to World War I and better working conditions.
A global event
Over the years, International Women's Day has become a global event, celebrated in many countries around the world. In 1975, the United Nations recognised March 8th as International Women's Day, and it has been celebrated on this date ever since. Each year, a theme is chosen for the day, highlighting the ongoing challenges that women still face.
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