International Women’s Day – Celebrating the Woman Power!
March 8th is a significant day for women all around the world as the International Women’s Day is celebrated every year. This special day endows them with a sense of self respect, dignity and honour for being the person that they are. Also, this day marks the celebration of the political, cultural, social and economic achievements made by pioneering women over the years. This year marks 100 years of International Women’s Day since the first announcement and observation of the 1st International Women’s day.
A woman’s true essence lies in her innate ability to sacrifice, love and care for the other. From time to time, she plays an all-enveloping character of a daughter, sister, wife and mother as well as a partner, guide, nurturer and friend. Vulnerable and emotional, sometimes serene, sometimes erratic, she displays a wide range of emotions from being patient and silent to extremely courageous in the face of adversity. This day celebrates the spirit and independence of women!
The “Feminine” Roots
The first official observation of Women’s Day took place on March 19 1911 in Switzerland, Germany, Denmark and Austria. The historical decision to observe a special day for celebrating the spirit of a woman as International Women’s Day happened in the year 1910. This decision was taken at the 2nd international convention of working women which was held in Copenhagen.
During the meeting, Clara Zetkin, who was the leader of Germany’s Social Democratic Party Woman’s Office, proposed that in every country there should be a celebration on the same day as Women’s Day. This will help to reinforce the various needs and demands made by women. Her suggestion was approved by others as well. Hence, the decision was followed for the first time in the coming year, in 1911.
Origin of the Idea
A lot of turbulence was seen in industrialized societies in the end of the 19th century as women started demonstrating against the inequality, poor pay and oppressive working conditions. Also, women in different countries were demanding equal voting rights. Around 15,000 women protested in New York City demanding equal voting rights, better pay and shorter working hours in 1908. The Socialist Party of America marked February 28 as the first National Women’s Day across the United States.
The last Sunday of February was marked as National Women’s Day in the United States until 1913. Dignified working conditions and fair wages became the prime focus of several protests and demonstrations by women. On the eve of World War I, Russian women campaigned for peace and they observed their first International Women’s Day. In 1913, however, a common consensus was made and the International Women’s Day was marked on March 8.
Global Acceptance of International Women’s Day (IWD)
The year 1975 was designated as International Women’s Year by the United Nations. In the same year, the U.N. gave the official nod to the International Women’s Day. They started sponsoring various events for IWD. All the United Nations member countries started observing the special day. The women’s groups in these countries working for a social and status change use this day to focus attention on impending issues about women’s rights. They use IWD to push their agenda in front of the people.
Celebration of International Women’s Day
This special day is observed in more than a hundred countries. In several countries including Vietnam, Uzbekistan, Ukraine, Uganda, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Russia, Montenegro, Mongolia, Moldova, Kazakhstan, Eritrea, Guinea-Bissau, Cuba, Cambodia, Burkina Faso, Belarus, Azerbaijan, Armenia and Afghanistan, it is an official holiday.
In Madagascar, Nepal and China, it is an exclusive holiday for women. In many countries, it is a tradition for men to give flowers and small gifts to the women in their lives – mothers, wives, sisters or girlfriends. In a few countries like Romania, this day is considered equivalent to Mother’s Day, when small children give small gifts to their mothers and grandmothers. Men present yellow mimosas to women in Italy. In Albania and Russia too, chocolate and yellow mimosas are favourite gifts on March 8.