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Why International Women's Day is celebrated on March 8

2020-03-04 14:20


When it comes to Women's Day, we often think of a day that exclusively belongs to women. Although women don't have a day off on March 8, we still feel that we are valued by society. According to the International Women's Day official website, International Women's Day (IWD) is "a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women - while also marking a call to action for accelerating gender equality." However, how many people know why International Women's Day is celebrated on March 8? The following has shared a brief history and how this day is celebrated around the world with you.


  • History 

In the 1900s, great unrest and critical debate was occurring amongst women. Women's oppression and inequality were spurring women to become more vocal and active in campaigning for change and speaking up for themselves. Then in 1908, 15,000 women marched through New York City demanding shorter hours, better pay and voting rights. The Socialist Party of America (SPA) declared March 8 as the first National Woman's Day in 1909. However, the tragic 'Triangle Fire' in New York City took the lives of more than 140 working women. This disastrous event drew significant attention to women's working conditions and labor legislation in the US that became a focus of subsequent International Women's Day events. 


In 1910, Clara Zetkin, who was the leader of the 'Women's Office' for the Social Democratic Party in Germany, tabled the idea of an International Women's Day that needed to be celebrated on the same day in every country to press for women's demands. Over 100 women from 17 countries, representing each unit greeted Zetkin's suggestion with unanimous approval, and thus International Women's Day was the result.


  • Why it is celebrated on March 8

On March 8 in 1917 (Julian calendar: Feb 23), Russian women began a strike for "bread and peace" in response to the death of over 2 million Russian soldiers in World War 1. Opposed by political leaders, the women continued to strike until four days later the Czar was forced to abdicate and the provisional Government granted women the right to vote. The date the women's strike commenced was Sunday 23 February on the Julian calendar then in use in Russia. This day on the Gregorian calendar in use elsewhere was March 8.


  • How this day is celebrated around the world

March 8 is not a public holiday but is widely observed in many countries. In Italy, men give yellow mimosas to women on the day. Communist politician Teresa Mattei chose the mimosa in 1946 as the symbol of IWD in Italy because she felt that the French symbols of the day, violets and lily-of-the-valley, were too scarce and expensive to be used effectively in Italy. 


In Russia, the day has lost all political context through time, becoming simply a day to honor women and feminine beauty. 


In Bulgaria and Romania, it is also observed as an equivalent of Mother's Day, where children also give small presents to their mothers and grandmothers. 


The day is also an official holiday in many countries, such as China, Madagascar, Afghanistan, Cambodia, Cuba, Mongolia, and Vietnam...etc. Women will obtain a day off of half-day off on March 8, but employers could choose not to follow it because it is not compulsory.


The world has witnessed a great change in both women's and society's thoughts about women's equality and emancipation and still needs everyone's cooperation to make today better than yesterday. So, make a little bit of difference every day, speak up for yourself, ensure that the future for women is bright and equal, and make everyday International Women's Day.


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