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When and how celebration of International women's day was started ?

Updated on January 15, 2017


It is the occasion celebrated by women from around the world irrespective of national boundaries, ethnic, cultural economic and political differences. The women’s day represents at least nine decades of struggle for equality, justice, peace and development for women around the globe.

The idea of women’s day first arose in 20th century by the Socialist Party of America. On 28th February, 1909 first women’s day was celebrated in United States and women used to celebrate this festival on every last Sunday of February till 1913.

Middle stage

However in 1910, decision was taken to celebrate this festival at the international level in order to honour the movement for women’s right and to assist in achieving universal suffrage for women and this proposal was unanimously welcomed by women of all over the world but no fixed date was chosen till now. In 1911, Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland celebrated Women’s Day on 19th March in which above one million people of both gender attended rallies. Right to vote, right to hold public office, right to work… etc. were demands of women. 

In 1913, on the eve of World War-ǀ, Russian women observed their first International Women’s Day on the last Sunday of February as a part of peace movement. On 8th March of the following year, women held rallies elsewhere in Europe to protest the war and join hands with peace movements of Russian women. 

A historic turn took place in 1917, Two million Russian soldiers died in the war. Their women held a strike for ‘bread and peace’. That was the last Sunday of February. However political leaders opposed the strike but women continued to strike. That was the landmark in the history. Four days later provisional government granted women right to vote. That historic Sunday fell on 8th March on the Gregorian calendar. Since then, 8th March was observed ‘International Women’s Day’ around the globe. It is the moment to celebrate acts of courage and determination of ordinary women who have played an extraordinary role in the history of women’s right.

Women-to be respected.

Woman, the first teacher of a child, is treated as subordinate to men in today’s world. However they have struggled to improve their status but they are still forced backward by men. In 20th century USA had 2.9%, France had 3.8% and Hungary had 5.4% illiterate women. The figures for India were 60.7%, Turkey 83.3 %, Iraq 95.8% and Algeria 98.2%. Above 100 million children worldwide between the ages of 6 and 11 could not attend school in which 70% are girls. 

The sacrifice made by women for society can’t be explained in words. As first teacher they teach their children first lesson and shape-up them to be a good citizen. When great scientist Newton was dismissed from school, his mother taught him lesson. David Frowley wrote in his biography that his mother was main cause for the motivation in his life. When we go through history, we see that behind success of every man there was support of their mother. These women are suffering from gender inequalities and are forced to remain backward. Though United Nations has made great efforts to restore the status of women but in many countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh… etc. women are treated as slave. In 1948, University Education Commission stated that, “There can’t be educated people without educated women. If general education has to be limited to men or to women, that opportunity should be given to women for then, it would most surely be passed on to next generation.” 

Importance of women

Great scientist and Ex. president of India Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam said : “Empowering women is a prerequisite for creating a good nation. When women are empowered, society with stability is assured. Empowerment of women is essential as their thoughts and their value systems lead to the development of a good family, good society and ultimately a good nation.” 

Importance of women education holds the key to the future progress of a nation. It is a significant factor in changing their role and status in the society. There is a great saying that if you educate a boy, you educate an individual but if you educate a girl, you educate a family. Various organizations are making efforts to raise the self-awareness of women and allow them to participate in decision making process at home and offices. It will help them to become economically independent. 

International Women’s Day has assumed a new global dimension for women in developed and developing countries alike. The growing international women’s movement, which has been strengthened by four global United Nations women’s conferences, has helped make the commemoration a rallying point for coordinated efforts to demand for women’s rights and participation in the political and economic process. Increasingly, international Women’s Day is a time to reflect on progress made, to call for change and to celebrate acts of courage and determination by ordinary women who have played an extraordinary role in the history of women’s rights. 

Is the status of women today better than it was in past ?

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