BRIEF HISTORY OF WOMEN’S DAY
International Women’s Day is a recognized global holiday which finds it origination from the tumultuous and expansive times of the early 1900’s. This is when the world saw a major population growth and the influence of a multitude of ideologies from various regions in the world.
In 1908, unrest and dissent began to occur among most women throughout the world. Women were beginning to become more vocal and demurring against the inequality and oppression they were faced. Rallies were staged around the United States as women began to campaign for a change. In late March of 1908, about 20,000 women marched through the streets of New York City demanding shorter hours, better pay, and equality at the voting polls. In early 1909 the first National Woman’s Day holiday was observed on February 28. This was later amended to be observed on the last Sunday of February until it was later changed in 1913.
In 1910, the second annual Conference of Working Women was held in Copenhagen, Denmark. It was here at this conference that women concurred it would be in their best interest to have a unanimous holiday which would be celebrated worldwide. Following the agreed upon decision at Copenhagen, International Women’s Day as celebrated for the first time in Austria, Denmark, Germany, and Switzerland. More than 1.5 million women and men attended the rallies campaigning for the women’s rights to work, vote, respectable health conditions, hold public positions, and reduction in discrimination/sexual harassment. Shortly after the celebration, a devastating event called the Triangle Fire in New York City, took the lives of more than 200 Italian and Jewish working women. This fire drew the national spotlight and highlighted the untenable working conditions immigrant women were forced to work.
In Russia, on the last Sunday of February in 1917, Russian women began a strike which was named “bread and peace”. This was in response to the death of over 2 million Russian soldiers in the war. In defiance of political law, women continued the strike for four long, arduous days, until the political wing abdicated and changed the constitution. This finally granted women the right to vote.
Since its inception during the socialist movement, International Women’s Day has developed into a worldwide day of recognition and celebration. The United Nations has held an annual conference to coordinate international efforts and to bring about the most recent changes in social, political, and economic processes. 1975 was designated International Women’s Year by the UN and since this year many organizations have begun to hold large scale events on March 8th which honor women’s advancements and achievements. This date also signifies the continued vigilance and battle required to ensure that equality can be gleaned in all aspects of life.
In the 2000’s, International Women’s Day is now an official holiday celebrated in Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, China (for women only), Cuba, Georgia, Guinea-Bissau, Eritrea, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Madagascar (for women only), Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Nepal (for women only), Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Vietnam and Zambia. The tradition is usually followed by men honoring their mothers, wives, girlfriends, and/or any other female with flowers and small gifts. It can be said that International Women’s Day is very similar or somewhat equated to mother’s day in the Western worlds.
Annually on March 8th, thousands of events are held throughout the world to inspire and celebrate women’s achievements. It has now become a global holiday which is rich in local and international activity; which may also include government sponsored events, rallies, theatric performances, parades, and many more celebratory activities.
In closing, many consulates observe International Women’s Day and will be closed. This is a wonderful time of the year and women certainly deserve an international holiday. All of us here at Travel Visa Pro want to thank our women customers and remember women should be thanked every day, not just on this holiday!