International Women’s Day (IWD) has become a global phenomenon.
Marked March 8 of every year, it is a day set aside to celebrate women’s achievements and raise awareness about gender equality and women’s rights.
The theme for this year 2021 is called #ChooseToChallenge with the idea that a challenged world is an alert world and individually, we’re all responsible for our own thoughts and actions.
You are being asked to “raise your hand high to show you’re in and that you commit to choose to challenge and call out inequality”.
However, it is imperative to know the history of how this notable day originated.
We have highlighted some facts you need to know.
The origin of International Women’s Day can be traced to 1908 when 15,000 women marched through New York City demanding shorter hours, better pay, and voting rights.
This definitely had a huge impact as a year later, the first National Woman’s Day (NWD) spearheaded by the Socialist Party of America was observed across the United States on February 28, 1909.
2. The originator of women’s day
The idea to make the day international was suggested by German socialist, Clara Zetkin in 1910 at an International Conference of Working Women in Copenhagen which had 100 women from 17 countries representing unions, socialist parties, in attendance, and they agreed on her suggestion unanimously.
3. It spread to four European countries in 1911
Following the decision agreed at Copenhagen in Denmark, International Women’s Day was honored the first time in Austria, Denmark, Germany, and Switzerland on 19 March 1911.
More than one million women and men attended IWD rallies campaigning for women’s rights to work, vote, be trained, hold public office, and end discrimination.
4. The revolution in Russia
It was Russia who unknowingly set the March 8 trend. Although International Women’s Day became an official holiday in Russia in 1913, women still experienced difficulties caused by WWI. While men were off at war, women dealt with food shortages and a government that wouldn’t listen to them.
It was against the backdrop of a country exhausted by war, widespread food shortages, and escalating popular protest that the nation’s 1917 International Women’s Day demonstration was held on Feb. 23 of that year — the equivalent of March 8 in the Russian calendar, indicating the significance of the date of the commemorations today.
5. Official recognition by UN
International Women’s Day was officially recognised for the first time by the United Nations in 1975 and it soon became an annual event. The first theme adopted by the UN (in 1996) was “Celebrating the Past, Planning for the Future”.
6. Its colours
Purple, green, and white are the colors of International Women’s Day. Purple signifies justice and dignity. Green symbolizes hope. White represents purity, albeit a controversial concept. The colors originated from the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) in the UK in 1908.