The first International Women’s Day events were run in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland in 1911 and attended by over one million people. 100 years on, International Women’s Day (IWD) has become a global mainstream phenomena celebrated across many countries and is an official holiday in approximately 25 countries including Afghanistan, Russia, Ukraine, Vietnam and Zambia.
8 March sees extensive global women’s activity. Performer and social activist, Annie Lennox, will lead a mass march across London’s Millennium Bridge for charity. In Washington D.C. over a thousand people will descend on Capitol Hill demanding a better world for millions of marginalized women and girls around the globe. A major international businesswomen’s conference will be hosted in Sydney, Australia. Schools and governments around the world are participating in the day. Trade Unions and charities are campaigning. Global corporations are hosting conferences and distributing extensive resource packs. The United Nations Secretary-General delivers a formal message. The United States even designates the whole month of March as Women’s History Month as officially proclaimed by President Obama on February 28, 2011.
International Women’s Day is a global celebration of the economic, political, and social achievements of women past, present, and future. However, activity has not always been on the increase. Australian entrepreneur and women’s campaigner Glenda Stone, who founded the www.internationalwomensday.com website, a global hub of events and information, said:
“A decade ago International Women’s Day was disappearing. Activity in Europe, where International Women’s Day actually began, was very low. Providing a global online platform helped sustain and accelerate momentum for this important day. Holding only a handful of events ten years ago, the United Kingdom has now become the global leader for International Women’s Day activity, followed sharply by Canada, United States and Australia. 2011 will see thousands of events globally for the first time.”
More recently, social networking websites like Twitter, Facebook and Youtube have also helped fuel International Women’s Day activity. Generally the day has moved away from its socialist Suffragette beginnings to become more mainstream in celebrating women’s achievements. Women’s rights campaigners, however, continue to remind that vigilance rather than complacency is essential in striving for women’s equality.
About International Women’s Day
- International Women’s Day (8 March) is a global day celebrating the economic, political and social achievements of women past, present and future.
- In some places like China, Russia, Vietnam and Bulgaria, International Women’s Day is a national holiday.
- The first IWD was observed on 19 March 1911 in Germany following a declaration by the Socialist Party of America. The idea of having an international women’s day was first put forward at the turn of the 20th century amid rapid world industrialization and economic expansion that led to protests over working conditions.
- 2011 sees the International Women’s Day centenary fall on the same say as Shrove (pancake) Tuesday.
- For a detailed list of International Women’s Day events globally see http://www.internationalwomensday.com/events.asp
- Follow the International Women’s Day Twitter feed at http://www.twitter.com/womensday
- For more information see http://www.internationalwomensday.com/about.asp
- For International Women’s Day logos and usage guidelines, see http://www.internationalwomensday.com/linkto.asp