- While International Women’s Day is now largely aimed at inspiring women across the world and celebrating their achievements, its roots are in movements campaigning for better pay and voting rights.
- The first National Women’s Day was marked on 28 February 1909 in the United States after a declaration by the Socialist Party of America.
- During an International Conference of Working Women in Copenhagen the following year, Clara Zetkin, leader of the ‘Women’s Office’ for the Social Democratic Party in Germany, suggested the idea of an International Women’s Day (IWD). She proposed that every year in every country there should be a celebration on the same day. The idea was met with unanimous approval.
- 1911 saw IWD honoured for the first time in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland on 19 March. Over a million people attended rallies campaigning for women’s rights to work, vote, be trained, to hold public office and end discrimination.
- On the eve of World War I campaigning for peace, Russian women observed their first International Women’s Day on the last Sunday in February 1913. In 1965, it was declared as a non-working day in the USSR.
- International Women’s Day was transferred to 8 March that same year and has remained the global date for the event ever since.
- In 1975, the United Nations gave official sanction to International Women’s Day and began sponsoring it. The UN also declared 1975 as ‘International Women’s Year’.
- This year, a coalition of campaign groups including Oxfam, Amnesty International and White Ribbon Alliance are using IWD to call for more action to reduce deaths among pregnant women in developing nations. Sarah Brown, wife of British prime minister Gordon Brown, is patron of the White Ribbon Alliance, which campaigns for safe motherhood.
- Next year is IWD Global Centenary 1911-2011.
For more details, visit the official International Women’s Day website here.
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