By: Jamie Birdwell-Branson
For 104 years, March 8th has been a day for the world to celebrate the lives of women and the ever-growing mission for equality. International Women’s Day recognizes the political, cultural and social achievements of women all over the world, especially those whose rights are still in jeopardy. This year’s theme for International Women’s Day is “Make It Happen,” which calls on everyone to advance and recognize women.
In 1910, during the second annual International Conference of Working Women, a woman named Clara Zetkin proposed that every country should have an annual day of women’s celebration in order to promote equal rights and suffrage. Zetkin was inspired by the National Women’s Day held in the United States in 1909. The proposal was well received and voted for unanimously.
Millions of people in Austria, Denmark, Switzerland and Germany celebrated the first official International Women’s Day on March 19, 1911. The celebrations consisted of several rallies promoting women’s equality, the right to work, and the right to hold public office.
In 1913, March 8th became the official date of International Women’s Day and the date has stuck ever since. The Women’s Rights Movement has gone through many ups and downs since the inception of the celebration, but the motivation for equal rights remains for many across the globe.
Why We Celebrate
Though women have achieved suffrage in many countries as well as much in social, political and cultural realms, the cause is far from over. In the U.S., women still make 78 cents less for every dollar earned by men and their reproductive rights are consistently being stripped away in many states. Women in many other countries need more support during pregnancy and while raising young children. Often women do not receive compensation during maternity leave which causes women to feel like their career may suffer from their choice to have children.
Also, in many underdeveloped countries girls still don’t have the right to go to school, women don’t have the right to vote, and thousands of women still live in fear and/or in poverty. All women have the right to live with dignity and the promise that they will be equally compensated for equal work. International Women’s Day celebrates the accomplishments of all women, but recognizes the fight and struggle for equality still present in the 21st century.
How to Celebrate
Many countries have traditions on March 8th that celebrate the ladies in their lives, such as bringing their wife, daughter, or mother a chocolate or a flower in the morning. In Bulgaria and Romania, International Women’s Day is celebrated as an equivalent to Mother’s Day in the United States. Children bring their mothers and grandmothers flowers or small gifts to honor them.
There are also hundreds of events all over the world in celebration of International Women’s Day. If you are interested in finding an event, you can find one near you. You can also follow the movement on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. You can also support International Women’s Day by sporting a purple ribbon, which represents a color on a Suffragette flag used in the early 1900s when women were fighting for voting rights.
Image courtesy of internationalwomensday.com
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jamie Birdwell-Branson is a copy editor and freelance writer who lives in Ft. Worth, Texas with her cat and her husband. She is interested in writing about anything and everything, but she mostly enjoys to write about women’s issues and politics. She is an avid reader and a collector of magazines.