International Women’s Day was held on Sunday, March 8, but the first official International Women’s Day took place over 100 years ago. I wanted to take a moment to talk about the origins of Women’s Day; how it was originally observed, and how it has evolved to how we know it today. In 1908, 15,000 women marched through New York City to demand better working conditions and voting rights (About International Women’s Day). Just one year later in 1909 “in accordance with a declaration by the Socialist Party of American, the first National Woman’s Day (NWD) was observed across the United States on 28 February,” (About International Women’s Day).
A few years later, in 1910, a second International Conference of Working Women was held in Copenhagen, where the idea of an International Women’s Day was tabled (About International Women’s Day). In the proposal, made by Clara Zetkin of Germany, “every year in every country there should be a celebration on the same day – a Women’s Day – to press for their demands. The conference of over 100 women from 17 countries…greeted Zetkin’s suggestions with unanimous approval and thus International Women’s Day was the result,” (About International Women’s Day). It was the following year, on March 19, 1911 that the First International Woman’s Day was held; drawing over 1 million people to rallies and events worldwide (Pruitt, 2018). These 1 million people, women and men, attended rallies to campaign for women’s rights to work, vote, be trained, hold public office and end discrimination (About International Women’s Day). It was sometime after 1945 that the terminology changed from “Woman’s Day” to “Women’s Day” and not until the mid-1970s that the day would be celebrated primarily outside of socialist countries (Pruitt, 2018) It was also in 1975 when the UN General Assembly begin celebrating International Women’s Day on March 8, as we now do today (Pruitt, 2018).
In the years since its establishment, the day has evolved from a political widely political to include commercial enterprises like fashion shows and gift exchanges (Pruitt, 2018). Organizations like Internationalwomensday.com, Catalyst Inc, & World Association of Girl Guides & Girl Scouts (WAGGGS) seek to revitalize the focus of International Women’s Day endeavors (About International Women’s Day). You can learn about ways to get involved in celebrating, getting involved, and/or participating in next year’s International Women’s Day events by reaching out to your local community, or going to the International Women’s Day website: https://www.internationalwomensday.com/Events
About International Women’s Day. (n.d.). Retrieved March 10, 2020, from https://www.internationalwomensday.com/About
Pruitt, S. (2018, Aug. 22). The Surprising History of International Women’s Day. History. Retrieved March 9, 2020, from https://www.history.com/news/the-surprising-history-of-international-womens-day