“Equality for women is progress for all.”
A century ago, the above poster in German for International Women’s Day, March 8th, 1914, proclaimed:
“Give Us Women’s Suffrage. Women’s Day, March 8, 1914. Until now, prejudice and reactionary attitudes have denied full civic rights to women, who as workers, mothers, and citizens wholly fulfill their duty, who must pay their taxes to the state as well as the municipality. Fighting for this natural human right must be the firm, unwavering intention of every woman, every female worker. In this, no pause for rest, no respite is allowed. Come all, you women and girls, to the 9th public women’s assembly on Sunday, March 8, 1914, at 3pm.”
Today, though equality for women has made positive gains, still inequality remains in most part of the world.
Women’s rights activists across the world celebrate International Women’s Day (IWD) annually on March 8; and this day has been marked by the United Nations since 1975.
The official United Nations theme for International Women’s Day 2014 is “Equality for women is progress for all.”
The first National Women’s Day was observed on February 28, 1909 in the United States following a declaration by the Socialist Party of America.
The day developed as a Socialist political event, and was formerly called International Working Women’s Day. The earliest observances of the day were held on different dates: May 3, 1908, in Chicago; February 28th, 1909, and on February 27, 1910, in New York.
The Working Women’s Day was celebrated primarily in Russia, and to a certain extent in many other countries in Europe. In some countries, the day became an amalgamation of Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day, and for men to express their gratitude and love for women.
In August 1910, before the general meeting of the Socialist Second International in Copenhagen, an International Women’s Conference was organized. At that conference, German Socialist Luise Zietz proposed to institute an annual “International Woman’s Day” (note it is singular) as to promote equal rights, including suffrage, for women. The proposition was seconded by fellow socialist and later communist leader Clara Zetkin. However, no date was fixed then. A Hundred woman delegates from 17 countries agreed to the motion.
The following year, on March 19, 1911, for the first time, over a million people in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland observed IWD. There were around 300 demonstrations in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. In Vienna, women paraded on the Ringstraße (Ringstrasse) carrying banners to honour the martyrs of the Paris Commune.
Women demanded that women be given the right to vote and to hold public office. They also protested against discrimination for employment based on gender.
The American women, however, continued to celebrate its National Women’s Day on the last Sunday in February. In 1913, Russian women too observed their first International Women’s Day on the last Sunday in February, according to the Julian calendar then used in Russia.
There were some women-led strikes, marches, and other protests in the years leading up to 1914, but none of them took place on March 8.
In 1914 International Women’s Day was held on March 8, presumably because that day was a Sunday. From then on IWD is always held on March 8 in all countries.
International Women’s Day 2014 is the subject of the latest doodle displayed on Google’s home page. The Doodle video features over a 100 inspiring women from around the world. It includes the president of Lithuania, a brave Pakistani education activist, the most recorded artist in music history and an ever-curious explorer. The full list of women in this video on our doodle site.
- International Women’s Day (en.wikipedia.org)
- International Women’s Day 2014 (un.org)
- International Women’s Day, Equality for Women Means Progress for all Nations (radwanchowdhury.wordpress.com)
- International Women’s Day celebrated in Google doodle (theguardian.com)
- International Women’s Day (theobamacrat.com)
- International Women’s Day 2014 (google.com)
- Happy International Women’s Day today! (dearkitty1.wordpress.com)