International Women’s Day (IWD) is celebrated on 8 March across the world.
In 1910, Clara Zetkin, the leader of the Women’s Office for the Social Democratic Party in Germany tabled the idea of an International Women’s Day at the second International Conference of Working Women in Copenhagen. The proposal received unanimous assent from over one hundred women representing seventeen countries.
The very first International Women’s day was held the following year on March 19th. Meetings and protests were held across Europe with the largest street demonstration attracting 30,000 women. The day sparked great public debate, and advocates drew attention to the absolute necessity of extending the right to vote to women to make parliament more democratic. In 1913, IWD was transferred to March 8th and has been held on this day ever since.
In 1975, during the UN International Year for Women, the United Nations held its first official celebrations International Women’s Day. Two years later, in December 1977, the General Assembly adopted a resolution proclaiming a United Nations Day for Women’s Rights and International Peace to be observed by Member States. In adopting this resolution, the General Assembly recognised the role of women in peace efforts and development and urged an end to discrimination and an increase of support for women’s full and equal participation.
Since those early years, 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 Nation’s women’s conferences, has helped make the commemoration a rallying point to build support for women’s rights and participation in the political and economic arenas. 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 their countries and communities.
UN General Assembly adopted a resolution inviting Member States to proclaim a United Nations Day for Women’s Rights and International Peace – International Women’s Day – to be observed on any day of the year in accordance with their historical and national traditions. Since then, the United Nations Organisation has observed March 8th as International Women’s Day. The purpose of this day is to recognise the fact that securing peace and social progress and the full enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms require the active participation, equality and development of women; and to acknowledge the contribution of women to strengthening international peace and security.
For the women of the world, the symbolism of International Women’s Day has a wider meaning. It is an occasion to review how far women have come in their struggle for equality, peace and development. It is also an opportunity to unite, network and mobilise for meaningful change.
Source: International Women's Day