Women have been on a fascinating journey over the past 100 years, so it’s perfectly fitting that today is International Women’s Day
It’s an understatement to state that women haven’t had it as easy as men throughout the many centuries, particularly throughout the many patriarchal year’s society has had men at the helm, superseding over women in many respects. Occurring on 8th March this year, International Women’s Day is a time to reflect on the wonderful and inspirational progress made by women, to call for even further change and to celebrate acts of courage and determination by ordinary women who have played an extraordinary role in the history of their countries and communities.
The earliest purported Women’s Day observance, called "National Woman's Day" originally, was held on February 28, 1909, in New York City, organized by the Socialist Party of America at the suggestion of activist Theresa Malkiel. There have been claims that the day was commemorating a protest by women garment workers in New York on March 8, 1857, but researchers have alleged this to be a myth intended to detach International Women’s Day from its socialist origin.
In August 1910, an International Socialist Women’s Conference was organized ahead of the general meeting of the Socialist Second International in Copenhagen, Denmark. Inspired in part by the American socialists, German delegates Clara Zetkin, Käte Duncker, Paula Thiede, and others proposed the establishment of an annual "Women's Day", although no date was specified. The 100 delegates, representing 17 countries, agreed with the idea as a strategy to promote equal rights, including women’s suffrage.
The following year, on March 19th, 1911, the first International Women’s Day was recognized by over a million people in Austria, Denmark, Germany, and Switzerland. In Austria-Hungary alone, there were 300 demonstrations, with women parading on the Ringstrasse in Vienna, carrying banners honouring the martyrs of the Paris Commune. Across Europe, women demanded the right to vote and to hold public office and protested against employment sex discrimination.
Having been celebrated for just over 100 years now, the message and power of International Women’s Day remains two-fold – to celebrate the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women, and to mark a call to action for accelerating gender parity.