The concept of International Women’s Day goes back over 100 years, but the United Nations (UN) started celebrating International Women’s Day in 1977. It aims at promoting a gender-equal world – a world free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination. A world that’s diverse, equitable, and inclusive. A world where difference is valued and celebrated
BY PROF. MEETA NARAIN
Every year on March 8, the world celebrates International Women’s Day to campaign for women’s rights, to celebrate the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women, to raise awareness of the ongoing struggle for gender equality, access to abortion, against violence or abuse of women. International Women’s Day 2023 has been a time to reflect on the glories and progress made by women of all strata, to call for change and to celebrate acts of courage and determination by women, who have played an extraordinary role in keeping the morale of the woman high.
The concept of International Women’s Day, as is known, dates back to the early 1900s. Women’s Day first came into existence in 1909 and it was known as National Women’s Day. The day was initially celebrated on 28 February 1909, when 15,000 women marched through New York City demanding shorter working hours, better pay, and voting rights. Around the same time in Europe, in 1910 to be precise, the second International Conference of Working Women was held in Denmark’s Copenhagen, where Clara Zetkin, who led the Women’s Office for the Social Democratic Party in Germany, tabled the idea of an International Women’s Day and on March 9, 1911, International Women’s Day was observed for the first time in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland. In 1917, women in Russia chose to protest and strike under the slogan “Bread and Peace” on the last Sunday in February (which fell on 8 March in the Gregorian calendar). Their movement ultimately led to the enactment of women’s suffrage in Russia.
The United Nations (UN) started celebrating International Women’s Day in 1977, and it was officially agreed that the day will be widely observed on March 8 every year, for promoting a gender-equal world. A world free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination. A world that’s diverse, equitable, and inclusive. A world where difference is valued and celebrated.
Collective action and shared ownership for driving gender parity is what makes International Women’s Day impactful. Gloria Steinem, world-renowned feminist, journalist and activist, said, “The story of women’s struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organization but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights.” So, make International Women’s Day your day and do what you can to truly make a positive difference for women.