The UN decreed 1975 International Women’s year. It was in this year that International Women’s Day was first marked on March 8. Every year since 1975, International Women’s Day has been celebrated on this date.
Each year, International Women’s Day has a different theme. In 2020, the International Women’s Day theme is “each for equal”.
The IWD organizing committee explains the theme thus: “An equal world is an enabled world. How will you help forge a gender-equal world?
Celebrate women’s achievement. Raise awareness against bias. Take action for equality.”
You can find information online under the hashtags #IWD2020 and #EachforEqual.
The beginnings of the movements towards the foundation of an International Women’s Day have their roots in America and Europe as far back as 1909.
In the USA, the first National Working Woman’s Day was observed in the United States on 28 February 1909, after being promoted by the Socialist Party of America. It wanted a day to honor the 1908 garment workers’ strike in New York, where women had protested against their working conditions. The following year, German communist Clara Zetkin proposed that there should be an international aspect to the day and, in 1910, the Socialist International, meeting in Copenhagen, established a Women’s Day to honor the movement for women’s rights. Their goal was to build support for achieving universal suffrage for women.
The proposal was greeted with unanimous approval by the conference of over 100 women from 17 countries, which included the first three women elected to the Finnish Parliament. No fixed date was selected for the observance, but it was first celebrated on 19 March in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland.
Russia soon followed suit and International Women’s Day was established there in 1913. That same year, International Women’s Day also became a mechanism for protesting World War I.
In 1917, against the backdrop of the war, Russian women began a strike for “Bread and Peace” on the last Sunday in February (the equivalent of March 8 in the Gregorian calendar).
Four days later, the Czar abdicated and the provisional Government granted women the right to vote. It is from these events that the significance of the date of March 8 arises.
Today, the UN is one of the chief advocates for the day.
Its Charter of the United Nations, signed in 1945, was the first international agreement to affirm the principle of equality between women and men. Since then, the UN says, “the empowerment of women has continued to be a central feature of the UN’s efforts to address social, economic and political challenges across the globe”.
One key milestone in its efforts was the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action in 1995. This was a historic roadmap signed by 189 governments which focused on 12 critical areas of concern and “envisioned a world where each woman and girl can exercise her choices, such as participating in politics, getting an education, having an income, and living in societies free from violence and discrimination”.
Find out more about how to mark the occasion in 2020 here: https://www.internationalwomensday.com/GetInvolved