International Women’s Day is celebrated every March 8th in numerous countries around the world. It is a day to recognize the past efforts and achievements of women regardless of race, nationality or political affiliation. It is also a day to look forward to the future opportunities for women and gather strength as a group.
The first National Women’s Day was observed in the United States in February of 1909. It was prompted by the 1908 garment workers’ strike in New York, where women demanded economic and political rights.
In 1910, Clara Zetkin proposed the idea of an International Woman’s Day at the second International Conference of Working Women in Copenhagen. Her hope was to invite women every year in every country to unite in an effort to further women’s rights.
1911 marked the first International Women’s Day in four countries, where women and men rallied for a women’s right to work, vote and hold public office. This was a pivotal point in the women’s rights initiative as the “Triangle Fire” in New York city claimed the lives of 123 working women. This tragic event drew further attention to the poor working conditions that women had to endure.
From 1918 to 1999 International Women’s Day evolved into a global day to recognize the importance of the women’s movement. The United Nations contributed greatly to the efforts by sponsoring annual women’s conferences for many years. Women’s groups and governments joined forces with the United Nations to encourage participation and honor women’s advancements, their ultimate goal to ensure equality for women of the future.
Today International Women’s Day is an official holiday in over 27 countries. By recognizing past successes and fostering strength for present efforts, we can rally support for future equality.