Today is International Women’s Day. Women are gathering for events around the world, and many are taking a day off as part of “A Day Without A Woman”. But when did this all start, and what’s it all about? We’re answering all of your questions below.
What is International Women’s Day?
International Women’s Day is a global celebration of the social, economic, cultural and political achievement of women. It aims to bring attention to the massive gender inequality that still exists around the globe.
How did it all start?
The early 1900’s was a time of massive industrialization and population growth across the globe. With new ideologies sweeping the industrialized world, women became more vocal and active in the campaign for change. In 1908, 15,000 women marched throughout New York City to demand their right to vote and their right to equal wages. The next year, on February 28, the first National Woman’s Day was observed in the US.
How did it spread?
In 1910, over 100 women attended the International Conference of Working Women in Copenhagen. The idea for an International Women’s Day was proposed, and was met with a unanimous vote of approval. The following year, International Women’s Day was celebrated in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland on March 19. More than one million women (and men!) participated in rallies to demand the woman’s right to vote, work, be trained, and hold public office.
Why is International Women’s Day now on March 8?
In 1913, International Women’s Day was changed to March 8, and this became a hugely significant day a few years later. On March 8 1917, Russian women began a “bread and peace” strike to protest the death of over 2 million Russian soldiers in World War 1. Despite forceful opposition from the government, the women refused to back down. Four days into the strike, the Czar was forced to step down. The provisional government immediately granted women the right to vote.
Where does International Women’s Day stand today?
In 1975, the United Nations declared International Women’s Day an official holiday. But by 2000, the occasion had lost momentum. Feminism was no longer a priority: “battles had not been won and gender parity had still not been achieved.” In 2001, InternationalWomensDay.com was launched as a hub for the movement, and a special theme was created for each year. 2017’s campaign theme is “Be Bold for Change.”
What can you do?
This International Women’s Day, women and men across the US are participating in “A Day Without A Woman”. By taking a day off from labor, both paid and unpaid, women will show just how vital their role in the economy is. Participants are encouraged to wear red, a color that, according to the co-chair of the Women’s March on Washington, “signifies love and sacrifice, and is the color of energy and action.”
Check out more events across the globe at internationalwomensday.com/events.
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