International Women’s Day is a worldwide event taking place on Thursday the 8th of March, celebrating women’s cultural, social, economic and political accomplishments.
Additionally, the day symbolises a ‘’call to action’’ to speed up the need for gender equality. Notably, the International Women’s Day champions the idea of solidarity through the structures of commemoration, support and action.
The campaign welcomes everyone from everywhere, who support the idea and need for gender parity, as well as paying homage to the influential women of the world.
For over one hundred years, women have fought for their right to be treated as equals in society. This annual event continues to carry that torch, as it evolves from strength to strength.
Whilst sharing the global activism stage with other campaigns like #MeToo and #TimesUp, it is important to recognise why International Women’s Day exists today.
History Leading to International Women’s Day
The inception of International Women’s Day derives from prior movements made by women, who initiated the early stages of an important revolution.
Early demonstrations of this date back to 1848, New York, when Elizabeth Cady Stanton attended afternoon tea with four female friends. A young housewife and mother, Elizabeth became engaged in deep conversation sharing her concerns amongst her friends about the treatment of their gender group.
Similarly, in the United Kingdom, the Suffragists and Suffragettes (1860’s) were one of the first groups to offer a beacon of light on women’s rights in the country. Collectively, they regularly staged protests and marches in order for society to take notice.
From activists, such as Annie Kenney, Christabel, Emmeline, Christabel and Sylvia Pankhurst to peaceful approaches by Millicent Fawcett and Emily Davies, these leading figures became important household names.
Globally, the 19th century brought about challenging times, where women were treated as second-class citizens compared to their male counterparts. Whilst this list is not exhaustive, women were restricted from:
- Sufficient education
- Having property rights (if they were married)
- Protection from domestic abuse.
- Occupational rights
From 1872 onwards, this movement in the United Kingdom fuelled national interests, leading to the formation of additional groups across the country to tackle the issue.
Prominent groups, such as the National Society for Women’s Suffrage and the National Union of Women’s Suffrage were created to begin making a significant change. Their efforts resulted in certain laws being passed allowing women to make small but significant steps up the societal ladder. Steps, that continue to be made today.
The Birth of International Women’s Day
Which brings us to the creation of International Women’s Day.
This day was first demonstrated in 1909 when the campaign was once called ‘’National Women’s Day’’. This event took place in New York City and was arranged by members of the Socialist Party of America.
The following year (1910) witnessed a conference of women, who gathered with an ambitious attempt to create an official International Women’s Day. Chaired by Clara Zetkin, their motive was to develop this concept into a blueprint to advance equal rights.
In 1911, their blueprint became reality when the first official International Women’s Day (IWD) march took place in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland. This event witnessed over half a million people turning out to support the idea of equal rights and women suffrage.
It was only until 1914 when the IWD was assigned an official date (8th March) that would eventually become an annual event to advocate women’s rights.
From there, this strategy, along with previous movements mentioned, manifested into an effective domino effect. Collectively, these movements spread to all corners of the world and evolved over decades.
This brought about momentous and symbolic change to women’s rights in society, as many more laws continued to be passed.
International Women’s Day, Today
Today, IWD has grown substantially gaining widespread recognition for its efforts in celebrating the achievements of women. The event is so popular, it is a recognised by the United Nations (1975).
The IWD campaign officially adopted the colour purple as a mark of identity for the movement. Additionally, the campaign theme for this year’s IWD emphasises on the call to #PressforProgress. This comes after a report on Global Gender Gaps revealed that gender equality won’t arrive for another 200 years.
With consideration of this report, the campaign endeavours to motivate and unite people and communities to ‘’think, act and be gender inclusive’’.
This campaign operates throughout the year harnessing a host of initiatives, including:
- Facilitating and endorsing worldwide events
- Offering information about other events being held
- Educating society through informative articles and news
- Offering an online pledge to the cause
- Collaborating with well-known groups and organisations
- Offering resources to accommodate your working and non-working environment
- Generating media and social media attention via hashtags.
The day is set to be another popular initiative in the world calendar of all events. It is anticipated that the event will continue to attract worldwide attention via all platforms, such as social media and digital media outlets.
So, if you feel this event is of interest to you, your friends, or your colleagues, you can find out more information here.