International Women’s Day
International Women’s Day
International Women’s Day is observed annually on March 8th. This holiday is designed to celebrate women, but it also has many political intentions at its core. Unlike other female holidays, such as Mother’s Day, International Women’s Day is more than about love for women—it is designed to increase awareness of sexism and to promote equality between genders across the world. There are many ways to celebrate this day, and the traditions vary between countries.
International Women’s Day officially got its start in 1911, but other national holidays preceded this date. Prior to this time, the Socialist Party of America established a National Women’s Day in February, 1909. The purpose of the holiday was to promote equal rights for women and to protest sexism in the United States. German socialists took the concept a step further my establishing International Women’s Day, which was first celebrated on March 19, 1911. The holiday was extremely popular in Western Europe at this time, although the U.S. continued to stick with the national version of the women’s day at first. In 1913, the date for International Women’s Day was changed to March 8th, and it has been celebrated on this day ever since.
This holiday was predominantly observed in Europe until the United Nations started promoting it in the 1970s. 1975 was declared as International Women’s Year by the organization, and it held its very own women’s conference to discuss worldwide gender equality. The U.N. adopted the holiday, which was called the United Nations Day for Women’s Rights and International Peace. While the international group still refers to March 8 this way, the rest of the world largely regards the date simply as International Women’s Day.
While the holiday was originally started by socialist groups, International Women’s Day is not considered a socialist holiday. It has been adopted by countries of varying governments to help promote the rights of all citizens.
This holiday is celebrated in numerous ways. In many western nations, citizens partake in peaceful demonstrations to help promote women’s causes across the world. Others might take the day off from work or celebrate women by distributing flowers and gifts. While many symbols are utilized for this holiday, the most famous is a purple and white logo that features the goddess Venus.
Some women take the celebrations a step further through activism. A large part of this depends on the region, as some countries do not have the gender equality that other nations do. Protests are commonplace in some countries in the Middle East, Africa and Asia, where citizens work hard to promote equality. International Women’s Day helps to advocate equality in the workplace as well as in society.
March 8, 1917 is slated to be a monumental International Women’s Day. This date marks the hundredth anniversary of one of the most famous female-sparked protests in recent history: the Russian Revolution. The revolution got its start when courageous women took to the streets of St. Petersburg to protest bread shortages.
Most countries observe International Women’s Day. However, some countries have taken the celebrations a step further by recognizing March 8th as a public holiday. Russia, Armenia and Ukraine are just a few of the countries that close government offices and schools so that citizens can celebrate the day. Some businesses also close. The United States does not currently recognize International Women’s Day as a public holiday.
Sadly, women in certain regions are not permitted to participate in International Women’s Day due to oppression and differences in cultural views. While women have come a long way in terms of gaining equality, much more work is to be done. This holiday aims to increase awareness so women do not lose sight on the overall goals of equal rights.
By: Kristeen Moore