International Women's Day is celebrated every year on March 8th. In many countries, this is a national holiday, where many express their gratitude to the women in their life, whether they are grandmothers, mothers or wives. This holiday, however, came about from the unrest of women, looking for social and political change in the world and, most importantly, equal rights.
In 1908, there was much unrest amongst women who were becoming more vocal about political changes regarding things like better pay at work and equality overall. It was at this time that 15,000 women marched through New York City demanding equality.
The first celebration of International Women's Day was February 28th 1909. In accordance with a declaration by the Socialist Party of America, this day was celebrated across the United States. It was in 1910 that a second International Conference of Working Women was held. It was a woman named Clara Zetkin who voiced the idea of an International Women's Day, held in every country, every year on the same day not only to celebrate women but to continue to press for demands and equality. The conference included over 100 women from 17 countries representing unions, socialist parties, and working women's clubs. All unanimously approved the annual celebration.
The following year, on March 19th, International Women's Day was celebrated in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland. More than a million men and women attended rallies demanding that women have the right to vote and hold public office, the right to work and acquire vocational training, and to end discrimination against women in general.
There was an important event that helped set into motion the ideas that propelled International Women's Day (IWD). In 1911, less than a week after International Women's Day was celebrated 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. The fire was caused by a match that was dropped on the 8th floor of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory. This tragedy was the worst workplace accident in New York City's history and drew significant attention to working conditions and labor legislation in the United States that became a focus of subsequent International Women's Day events.
In 1913, the same year Russian women observed their first International Women's Day, the date was officially changed to March 8th, the same date it remains today around the world.
Over the years, IWD has grown globally in developed and developing countries alike. The United Nations has held annual IWD conferences to coordinate international efforts for women's rights as well as participation in social, political and economic events.
IWD is now an official holiday in Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, China, Cuba, Georgia, Guinea-Bissau, Eritrea, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Madagascar, Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Nepal, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Vietnam and Zambia. In some countries IWD has the equivalent status of Mother's Day where children give small presents to their mothers and grandmothers.
If you're looking for ways to celebrate this year's International Women's Day, visit www.internationalwomensday.com for events and more information.
Originally from Columbus, Ohio, Ani is a fan of exploring new places through photography and the local cuisine. After earning her BFA in photography from NYU and gaining communications experience at International Planned Parenthood Federation, she joined InterExchange in 2012, and worked as the Marketing Producer until 2016.