The History of International Women's Day
International Women’s Day
Every year on March 8 countries around the world celebrate the economic, social and political achievements of women of the past, present and the future. This day is known as International Women’s Day. The purpose of International Women’s Day is not only to celebrate the achievements of women around the world, but also bring light to the plight of underprivileged or wronged women around the world as well.
A day celebrating the achievements of women and raising awareness about the problems facing women grew out the expansion of the industrial workforce in the early 1900s. In 1908, 15,000 women marched in protest in New York City demanding better pay and shorter hours in factories. This march is generally considered the start of the movement in the United States and around the world.
In 1909, in accordance with a Declaration issued by the Socialist Party of America, the first National Women’s Day was observed across America. The day selected was February 28. Then in 1910, a second international conference of Working Women was held in Denmark. Clara Zerkin proposed that on the same day every year there should be a day to celebrate the achievements of women and to make formal demands for better working conditions for women around the world. The women at the conference who represented 17 countries unanimously agreed.
After the conference in Denmark, the first International Women’s Day was officially observed on March 19 in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland. More than a million men and women attended rallies in these countries demanded better working conditions, the right to vote and to hold public office.
A week after the first official International Women’s Day, the tragic “Triangle Fire” took the lives of 140 women in a New York City factory. This event grew attention to the very problems being promoted by women across the world and in the United States.
In 1913, International Women’s Day was moved to March 8 where it has remained ever since.
For More Information
- International Women's Day
The International Women's Day website
International Women’s Day Today
Since it inception out of the Socialist movement in the early part of the twentieth century, International Women’s Day has grown to a global holiday that spreads the political and ideological spectrum. International Women’s Day is an official national holiday in many countries, including China and Russia.
On March 8 today, thousands of rallies are held around the world to celebrate the achievements of women. But the original focus remains to bring light to the plight of women around the world. In 2010, the United Nations theme for International Women’s Day is “Equal Rights, Equal Opportunities: Progress for All.”
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