Today is International Women’s Day, with events and marches going on worldwide. But what does that actually mean? Although the holiday is relatively unknown in the U.S., it has been celebrated for over a century. Below, we answer all your questions about International Women’s Day.
What exactly is International Women’s Day?
International Women’s Day is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. It aims to advance gender parity.
When did International Women’s Day start?
The first official International Women’s Day was held in 1911. It was celebrated on March 19 in Switzerland, Austria, Germany, and Denmark, and was the direct result of the 1910 International Conference of Working Women. At the conference, which took place in Copenhagen, a German woman named Clara Zetkin proposed the idea. Zetkin’s proposal was unanimously approved by the more than 100 women in attendance.
Had a women’s day ever been celebrated before then?
Yes. Although it is impossible to know all informal such celebrations throughout history, the United States did have its own incarnation not long before 1911: In 1909, the Socialist Party of America established and celebrated the first National Women’s Day on February 28.
So, why do we now celebrate International Women’s Day on March 8?
In 1913, International Women’s Day was officially changed to March 8. March 8, 1917 on the Gregorian calendar was a significant date for Russian women. A women’s strike for “bread and peace” began over the deaths of Russian soldiers in World War I. When the strike concluded four days later, Russian women had won the right to vote under the country’s provisional government.
How is International Women’s Day celebrated around the world?
International Women’s Day is celebrated in countries all around the world, including but not limited to the United Kingdom, Russia, China, Japan, Brazil, and the United Arab Emirates. Many countries have their own associated traditions. For example, In Italy, women are given bouquets of yellow mimosa flowers. In 1975, the United Nations began officially celebrating International Women’s Day.
Is there a specific theme for this year’s International Women’s Day?
Yes—the 2020 campaign theme is #EachforEqual.
How can I get involved?
The International Women’s Day website features a full list of events by area, so pick one that’s convenient for you and show up to support women everywhere.
BY MADELEINE LUCKEL March 8, 2020