So, every March, you see women online getting all excited because it’s International Women’s Day, and you’re like ‘what the fuck is this?’
Well, International Women’s Day is a day to celebrate and commemorates the women’s rights movement.
International Women’s Day was initially known as International Working Women’s Day. It can be dated back to February 28th, 1909, when there was a gathering in N.Y.C. organized by the Socialist Party of America (and people keep saying Bernie being a socialist was a bad thing!)
This first observation was a remembrance of the strike on the International Ladies Garment Workers Union (ILGWU). The ILGWU was, at one point, the largest labor union in the U.S. For those who haven’t learned about the U.S. Industrial Revolution in history classes, labor unions were a huge fucking deal back then, but an even bigger deal was all the strikes that occurred because they weren’t treating employees correctly. The strike on ILGWU was “spontaneously” started by Clara Lemlich but ended with more than 20,000 women striking.
According to the UN’s website, a year later, the Socialist International established a Women’s Day to honor the movement and in hopes of achieving universal suffrage for women. And it got unanimous approval!
In 1911, European countries celebrated International Women’s Day, but they were usually on March 19th. Women would hold rallies demanding their right to work, vote, hold public office, ending decimation at jobs, and to vocational training. Later, it became a tool to protest WW1 with.
On March 8th in 1917 (so exactly 100 years ago!) in Petrograd, the Russian Empire Capital, there was a huge gathering of women textile works. A week later, their government gave women the right to vote, and March 8th was announced a national holiday in Soviet Russia. Since it was started in communist Russia, it was widely celebrated by communists and socialists.
In the year 1975, which was International Women’s Year (we should have another one of those!!!!), the United Nations adopted March 8th as the day of celebration for International Women’s Day.
Since then, the UN has had International Women’s Day themes. This has included:
Celebrating the Past, Planning for the Future (1996)
Women and Human Rights (1998)
World Free of Violence Against Women (1999)
Afghan Women Today: Realities and Opportunities (2002)
Women and HIV/AIDS (2004)
Gender Equality Beyond 2005: Building a More Secure Future (2005) Investing in Women and Girls (2008)
A Promise is a Promise: Time for Action to End Violence Against Women (2013),
Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step It Up for Gender Equality & Women in the Changing World of Work: Planet 50-50 by 2030 (2016 & 2017)
In some countries, it’s not technically a holiday, but most still celebrate it by giving women presents (such as flowers) to the women in their life on March 8th. In Armenia, they created their own holiday called “Beauty and Motherhood,” which is on April 7th. However, Armenians have a “Women’s Month” that lasts from March 8th– April 7th, and they observe both. In Italy, to celebrate, they give women yellow mimosas (yum!). Mimosas were chosen to be the symbol for IWD in Italy in 1946 by Teresa Mattei. Mimosas and chocolate are also commonly given out in Russia and Albania. Some countries have “women-only” parties. Each country has its own unique and interesting way of celebrating the day and women.
International Women’s Day is important because it is a day to celebrate where women started, where they are now, and where they will [hopefully] be in the future. It is a day to commemorate and show support for women’s rights activists. Women have been through hell and back to get some fundamental rights, and it’s important to have a day where we celebrate that. Also, women are beautiful and wonderful and deserve great things, so any day dedicated to them is 100% fine with me.