International Women's Day

United Nations (UN) became the first international body to assert the principle of equality between women and men in its founding document. Article 1 of the UN Charter affirms the body’s aim of “promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion.”

During the 1975 International Women's Year the UN celebrated its first official International Women's Day on 8 March.

Two years later , in December 1977, the General Assembly adopted a resolution declaring a United Nations Day for the Rights of Women and World Peace to be celebrated every day of the year by Member States, in accordance with their historical and national traditions.

The International Women’s Day first emerged from the activities of labour movements at the turn of the twentieth century across North America and Europe. On February 28, 1909, the first National Woman's Day was celebrated in the United States, where the Socialist Party of America devoted to the strike of textile workers in New York in 1908, in memory of which women demonstrated against oppressive working conditions. In 1917, women in Russia agreed to protest and strike under the slogan "Bread and Peace" on the last Sunday in February (which falls on the Gregorian calendar on March 8), and their campaign eventually contributed to the introduction of women's suffrage in Russia.

International Women's Day is an opportunity to celebrate progress towards gender equality and empowerment of women, but also to reflect critically on these successes and to advocate for greater momentum towards gender equality around the world. It is a day to celebrate women's extraordinary actions and work together, as a united power, to promote gender equality in the world.

What is International Women's Day?

International Women's Day is an opportunity to celebrate International Women's Day (March 8), a worldwide celebration of women's social , economic , cultural and political achievements. Even the day marks a call for action to accelerate gender equality. For International Women's Day, no country, NGO, charity, business, academic institution, women's network or media centre is solely responsible. Most organizations announce an annual IWD theme that promotes their specific goal or cause, and some of these are embraced more broadly than others. International Women's Day is a worldwide celebration, and a call for gender equality. The International Women's Day is all about solidarity, celebration, reflection, activism and action-whatever it looks like globally at a local level. But one thing is for sure, there has been International Women's Day for well over a century-and it continues to grow from strength to strength.

What colours signify International Women's Day?

Internationally, for women to symbolize, purple is a colour. Historically the use of red, green and white to symbolize the freedom of women emerged in 1908 from the Social and Political Union of Women in the UK. Purple signifies justice and dignity. Green symbolizes hope. White reflects purity but is no longer used because the definition of 'purity' is controversial.

What's the history of IWD?

Since the early 1900s, the International Women's Day (IWD) has been celebrated-a period of tremendous change and turmoil in the developed world that saw rapid population growth and revolutionary ideologies increasing.

1908 -2000

There was significant discontent and critical debate among women. Oppression and discrimination among women caused women to become more outspoken and active in advocating for reform. Fifteen thousand women then marched through New York City in 1908 seeking shorter hours, fair wages and voting rights. In 1910 a second International Working Women's Conference took place in Copenhagen. International Women's Day was first celebrated in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland on 19 March following the agreement decided at Copenhagen in 1911. Over one million men and women participated in IWD protests calling for women's rights to work, vote, be educated, hold public office and end discrimination. International Women's Day has been moved to 8 March and the worldwide date for International Women's Day has remained this day ever since. More women across Europe organised rallies in 1914 to protest against the war and show solidarity with women. In 1975 the United Nations celebrated for the first time the International Women's Day. The General Assembly then adopted a resolution in December 1977 declaring a United Nations Day for Women's Rights and International Peace to be celebrated by Member States on every day of the year, in keeping with their historical and national traditions. In 1996, the UN began to embrace an annual theme-" Celebrating the past, preparing for the future. This theme was followed by "Women at the Peace table" in 1997, and "Women and Human Rights" in 1998, and "World Free of Violence against Women" in 1999, and so on every year until the present. For example, more recent themes include "Empowering Rural Women, End Poverty & Hunger" and "A Promise is a Promise-Time for Action to End Violence Against Women."

2001 - 2020 and beyond

The first IWD celebrations in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland just 100 years ago marked the 100th anniversaries of the International Women's Day in 2011.In the U.S., President Barack Obama proclaimed March 2011 a "Women's History Month," calling for Americans to mark IWD by focusing for "the remarkable contributions of women" in defining the culture of the world. In the UK, celebrity activist Annie Lennox is led a splendid march over one of London's landmark bridges raising awareness in support of Women for Women International, a global charity. Certain organisations like Oxfam have carried out massive campaigns to support IWD and many celebrities and business leaders are now strongly promoting the day.

The world has undergone a major change and shift in attitudinal thinking about women's empowerment and liberation, both within women and culture. Those from a younger generation that believe that 'all the battles for women have been won,' whereas other feminists from the 1970's know patriarchy's persistence and entrenched ambiguity only too well. Notwithstanding more women in the boardroom, greater equity in legislative rights and an increased critical mass of women's representation as excellent role models in every field of life, one would assume that women have achieved true equality. The real tragedy is that women are still not paid similarly to their male counterparts, women are still not involved in business or politics in equal numbers, and the education , health and abuse against women globally is worse than that of men. However large steps have been made. We have woman astronauts and prime ministers, school girls are welcome to college, women are willing to work and have a family, women have real options. And so the planet encourages women every year, and honours their accomplishments. IWD is an official holiday in many countries including Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, China (for women only), Cuba, Georgia, Guinea-Bissau, Eritrea, Kazakhstan , Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Malagasy (for women only), Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Nepal (for women only), Russia, Tajikistan , Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Vietnam and Zambia. Traditionally men honour their mothers, daughters, partners, colleagues and so on with flowers and little presents. In some countries IWD has Mother's Day equivalent status where children give their mothers and grandmothers small gifts.