International Women’s Day: Here’s all you need to know

On the eve of International Women’s Day, here is the summary of when the day started along with a brief timeline of how the day has evolved over the years

Women's Day
The theme for International Women’s Day 2017 is ‘Be Bold for Change’. The campaign calls on people to work towards a better working world – a more gender inclusive world Image Source: Google

When did International Women’s Day start?

Though it’s difficult to exactly pinpoint when the day started, International Women’s Day’s roots can be traced back to the early 1900s.

In 1908 15,000 women in New York marched through the city to demand better pay, rights to vote and shorter working hours.

A year later, their efforts were honoured with a National Women’s Day on the last Sunday in February.
In 1910 at a conference in Copenhagen, Clara Zetkin, Leader of the Women’s Office for the Social Democratic Party in Germany tabled the idea of a Women’s Day to support campaigns for women’s rights and universal suffrage.

The conference was attended by 100 women from 17 countries including the first three women elected to the Finnish parliament and the proposal was met with unanimous approval.

The next year, International Women’s Day was observed by Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland.

In 1914, a march was organised in London to mark the day. Prominent suffragette Sylvia Pankhurst was arrested while she was on her way to speak in Trafalgar Square.

When did the UN adopt it?

In 1975, during International Women’s Year, the UN adopted International Women’s Day – this year also saw the Icelandic women’s strike which carved a path for Vigdís Finnbogadóttir’s election five years later as world’s first female president.

It has celebrated the day on March 8 ever since.

In 1996, the UN began giving the day a new campaign theme every year. The first was “Celebrating the Past, Planning for the Future”.

This year’s theme is “Be Bold For Change”.

What about Women’s History Month?

Women’s History Month is reserved for the month of March in the UK, US and Australia, and takes place in October in Canada.

It began in America, and evolved from the same beginnings as International Women’s Day.

President Jimmy Carter declared the first week of March to be National Women’s History Week in 1980.

Seven years later US Congress designated March Women’s History Month and since 1988 all Presidents have made annual proclamations and schools have been given more resources to educate children on the roles of women in society and history.

Women’s History Month was first adopted in the UK in 2011 and this year a number of talks will take place in Parliament during the month of March.

Here’s a brief timeline of how International Women’s Day evolved over the years:

1909: The day was first observed in United States on February 28. The Socialist Part of America designated the day in honour of the garment workers’ strike in New York in 1908, where women protested for better pay and shorter working hours.

1913-14: Women’s day became a mechanism to protest war. Russian women observed their first International Women’s Day on the last day of February to protest World War I. Women in Europe held rallies on March 8 to express solidarity with peace activists.

1975: United Nations began celebrating the day on March 8. 1975 was United Nations’ International Women’s Year.

2011: Former US President Barack Obama proclaimed March as Women’s History Month to reflect on the extraordinary accomplishments of women and honour their role in shaping a nation’s history.

The theme for International Women’s Day 2017 is ‘Be Bold for Change’. The campaign calls on people to work towards a better working world – a more gender inclusive world.

Source: BT and NDTV