Initially promoted and founded by women, International Women’s Day is a global occasion to celebrate women’s economic, political and social progress and to highlight the steps still to be taken to achieve gender equality. Celebrated on March 8, International Women’s Day grows every year as women around the world plan and strive for change, often wearing purple to symbolize justice and green for hope. But how was this anniversary born?
The roots of the International Women’s Day
In February 1909, the groundwork for International Women’s Day began in the form of a “Women’s Day,” organized in response to a large-scale strike by New York workers to get better pay, shorter hours. short, better working conditions and the right to vote.
This national day held in the United States quickly became internationally recognized. It was first adopted by European countries thanks to the International Conference of Working Women in Denmark in 1910, when the German socialist Clara Zetkin proposed the idea of a permanent day during which women could make their voices heard. The first women’s day was celebrated in 1911, although the date of March 8 would not have been fixed until the First World War. Celebrated and formalized by the United Nations in 1975, a specific theme is adopted each year to highlight a problem on which to focus attention.
How Women’s Day is celebrated around the world
International Women’s Day is an official holiday in many countries and is widely celebrated in many others. Depending on where you are, the celebrations range from receiving gifts to political demonstrations and protests.
On 8 March women from all over Italy are traditionally given bouquets of yellow mimosas; the symbol chosen for International Women’s Day in this country. Also seen as a symbol of female strength, it is common for women to exchange mimosas for each other as a sign of female solidarity. (Being a food-loving country, you’ll find pastries and cakes decorated with the vibrant yellow of the flower!)
In Romania, Women’s Day is celebrated in a similar way to Mother’s Day, whereby everyone, but especially men, fill their mothers, grandmothers and friends by giving them cards and flowers.
3. United States
International Women’s Day is not an official holiday in the United States, although March is known as “Women’s History Month”; to draw attention to the achievements of women throughout history, both past and contemporary. On March 8 itself, the capitals host rallies, conferences and corporate events on the subject.
Although March 8 was the date of a national holiday in the past, in Russia since 1918 its meaning seems to have largely forgotten its political roots and today women are recognized and celebrated by giving them gifts.
While Girl’s Day in China is March 7, the country has recognized International Women’s Day since 1949. On March 8, employers are encouraged, though not obligated, to give their female staff half a day off. However, there is also a deeply ingrained business side to this holiday, where men are encouraged to buy gifts for the women in their life.
Australians have been celebrating Women’s Day for decades, although the celebrations have become particularly popular since the early 1970s. The day takes place across the country with a series of discussions, breakfasts and events featuring prominent women in their specific fields, speaking out publicly to call for more representation, equality and diversity across the board.
After the unexpected large-scale success of the 2018 general strike in Spain in which over 5 million people went out for 24 hours, the country continues to take to the streets. While a mass strike is not necessarily the focus of future International Women’s Days, the Spaniards have a clear goal of increasingly focusing on the rights of women and girls.
Held over three days in London, including Women’s Day, the ‘Women of the World’ festival features speakers, activists and performers who come together to address the issues facing women globally. Founded in the UK, WOW now has twin festivals in other parts of the world, with discussions, lectures and exhibitions that intertwine and feed each other.
The day is marked by demonstrations in several cities, most notably Santiago, the capital, with demonstrators wearing green handkerchiefs to symbolize their support for sexual and reproductive rights. Singing, drumming concerts, and elaborate costumes are just some of the things you can see.
Celebrated since 1900, Argentines generally celebrate International Women’s Day by giving gifts to female figures in their lives. However, protests have become regular in recent years, with citizens increasingly taking to the streets to demonstrate against violence, the still-present pay gap, equal representation in the arts and other social changes.