International Women’s Day – When, Why and What’s Next

I announced to my husband that today, Sunday March 8, is International Women’s Day. “Why?” he asked. “There’s no International Men’s Day. How come you get one?” Great question!

The answer: It started in 1911 following a working women’s international conference in 1910 in Denmark.  WHY? Answer: To celebrate that women in various countries were FINALLY getting the right to vote and might have a forum to press for policies and practices that supported women. “During the week before International Women’s Day two journals appeared: The Vote for Women in Germany and Women’s Day in Austria.  Success of the first International Women’s Day in 1911 exceeded all expectation.  Meetings were organized everywhere in  small towns and even the villages halls were packed so full that male workers were asked to give up their places for women.  Men stayed at home with their children for a change, and their wives, the captive housewives, went to meetings.  In 1913 International Women’s Day was transferred to 8 March and this day has remained the global date for International Women’s Day ever since. During International Women’s Year in 1975, IWD was given official recognition by the United Nations and was taken up by many governments 2000 and beyond. IWD is now an official holiday in China, Armenia, Russia Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bulgaria, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Macedonia, Moldova, Mongolia, Tajikistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan and Vietnam. The tradition sees men honoring their mothers, wives, girlfriends, colleagues, etc with flowers and small gifts.” The Economic Times, March 8, 2009 What’s next?  The theme for this year is “Women and Men United Against Violence toward Women and Girls.”  Women and children are the greatest victims of genocide, rape, and mutilation.  And there’s more:  Seventy percent of women in the world live in poverty.  Globally, women own only 1% of all the land yet do two-thirds of the work, receiving only 10% of the world’s income.  In many countries, they are denied access to income.   These facts are but some of the statistics supplied by Reuters What to do: First, make sure you tell all the women around you how much you value their contribution to your life, the family, the workplace, and the community. Second, consider volunteering or donating to organizations that provide shelter, education, and work opportunities to women.  Third, despite the economic gloom, look at your investments and determine if they support governments that suppress women.  The atrocities against women in Sudan is well-documented yet some global oil companies continue to do business. US oil companies are currently barred from operating in Sudan.


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