Every year, we celebrate one day in honor of women around us. We use this opportunity to celebrate the fact that women are now able to vote, speak publicly, march freely, and organize events. We have a long way to go until we get to gender equality. But still, it is nice that we have this one day, International Women’s Day to celebrate. Here are something you need to know about this holiday, and about gender equality.
- The day was originally called International Working Women’s Day and it was celebrated on February 28, 1909. The event was originally organized in New York, with the goal being to remember the 1908 strike of the International Ladies’s Garment Workers Union. In 1908, more than 15,000 workers marched through the city to demand social and political rights
- The idea for the International Working day was proposed by Clara Zetkin, a German born woman. She was the leader of the Women’s Office for the Social Democratic Party, and suggested the idea in 1910 at the International Conference of Working Women in Copenhagen. Her proposal was that every year, every country should celebrate women on the same day. The idea was approved unanimously
- The concept of a woman’s day was a working concept. There was an event held in Europe on March 19, 1911. The event was organized on the 40th anniversary of the Paris Commune, a radical socialist government that ruled in France in 1871. On that date, more than 1 million people rallied worldwide
- However, the first international Women’s Day was held in 1914, five years after the inception. The event was scheduled on March 8, and the date was chosen for practical reasons. March 8 was Sunday, which allowed majority of women to be free to participate in marches and events
- In 1917, Vladimir Lenin, recognized the importance of the day and declared it an Official Soviet Holiday. All socialist countries adopted the holiday. When Lenin first announced the day a holiday, the terminology used was “Woman’s Day”. After World War II, the terminology shifted and became “Women’s Day”
- The day has even more significance for Russia. On that day, March 8 according to the West calendar, feminist activist Alexandra Kollontai started a massive demonstration that led to the abdication of Czar Nicholas II and the Russian Revolution. According to the Russian Gregorian Calendar, the day was February 23, 1917. But the West calendar shows it was March 8
- The celebration was officially adopted by the United Nations in 1975, as the organization began sponsoring the event. Since 1996, the United Nations assigns a theme for the International Women’s Day, with this year, the theme being “Be bold for change”. The UN acknowledges the day as “a day when women are recognised for their achievements without regard to divisions, whether national, ethnic, linguistic, cultural, economic or political. It is an occasion for looking back on past struggles and accomplishments, and more importantly, for looking ahead to the untapped potential and opportunities that await future generations of women”
- It took several years for the event to catch fire in the United States. However, now, the US celebrates the whole month of March as “Women’s history month”
- There are more than 15 countries around the world that have declared March 8 as an official holiday. Among them, we have Cambodia, Mongolia, Vietnam, Nepal, China, Ukraine, Vietnam, Zambia, Madagascar, and others
- Finally, some statistics. There are 106 males born for every 100 females. However, due to the fact that women live longer, the percentage of women increases with age. For example, currently, there are 79 men older than 65 years per 100 women. The average life expectancy for men is 68.5 years, while for women, it is 73.5 years.
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