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International Women’s Day: A Brief History and the Celebrations

by Francesca Baptiste

International Women’s Day (IWD) is a universal day marking the cultural, social, economic, as well as, political accomplishments of Women. This day also exhibits a push for fast-tracking gender equality. International Women’s Day is honored each year on 8th March. It has been celebrated for more than a century, with the initial IWD turnout being in 1911. IWD is not linked to a specific country, organization, or group; it belongs indiscriminately to all groups.

A renowned feminist, Gloria Steinem, who is also an activist and a journalist, said that the issue of Women’s battle for equality does not belong to feminists or specific organizations, except to the combined attempts of the people who take human rights seriously. For that reason make this International Women’s Day a day to do what you possibly can to positively impact women. The purpose of this day is to emphasize the cultural, political, social, and economic obstacles that are faced by women, and to urge for their promotion within these areas.

First IWD Celebrations

International Women’s Day was first commemorated on 19th March, 1911. A Million Men and women gathered in support of women’s rights on this day. The Socialist Party of America on February 28, 1909 affirmed the America`s National Women`s day, which inspired the idea on IWD.

In 1910, The Socialist International held a meeting in Denmark and the emissaries embraced the concept of an IWD. And Alas, the following year, 1911, the original IWD was commemorated with marches in Austria, Germany, Denmark, and Switzerland. The commemorations at times included marches and protests. Within less than seven days after the first IWD, the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire Killed 146 individuals, most of them being young women, in New York.

That escapade stimulated numerous changes in the industrial working conditions, and the deceased people’s memories have frequently been referred to as part of International Women’s day from that day. In the initial years, International Women’s Day was linked to rights for working women.

The following are some of the significant happenings during the International Women’s Days that followed:

  • The original Russian celebration of International Women’s Day was on February 19, 1913.
  • In 1914, with the break out of WWI, this was a day of protests of women in opposition to war or women showing International Harmony during the war.
  • In 1917, on 23rd February March 8 on former Russian Calendar- Russian women planned a strike, a significant start of events that resulted in the overthrowing of Czar.

Why March 8

The initial IWD was marked on March 19, 1911, and it was Russia who unknowingly set the March 8 trend. During World War I, men were at war and women faced food shortage and the government wouldn’t listen to them. On 23rd February a March 8 on former Russian Calendar- thousands of Russian Women protested in the streets demanding change. Their unity paved the way for them to be given voting rights later on.

Colors That Indicate International Women’s Day

Purple is recognized internationally for symbolizing women. Historically a blend of purple, white and green represents women’s equality. Purple represents dignity & justice, and green shows hope and white symbolizes purity; however, it is no longer used since “purity” is a sensitive subject.

How to Celebrate

Celebrating International Women’s Day varies from country to country. For instance, in Italy, they commemorate it by giving the women a mimosa blossom. You can celebrate it by posting pictures and using relevant hashtags like #IWD. Moreover, people share their posts commemorating women in their lives and demonstrating how they are working to promote women.

International Women’s day Theme for 2020

The theme for 2020 is #EachforEqual, which reminds people that it is everyone’s responsibility to help create a gender-equal world. In 2019, the IWD theme was #BalanceforBetter, which focused on the significance of having a gender-balanced world. In 2018, the theme for International Women’s Day was #PressforProgress. You can post your #IWD2020 messages on any social media platform with your a hand out a equal posture to Support the #EachforEqual 2020 theme.

UN Women as well issued a 2020 theme: “I am a Generation Equality: Realizing Women’s Rights.” UN Women has a recent multigenerational campaign for practicing equality known as Generational Equality.

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