Every year people around the world come together to celebrate women's achievements or rally for women's equality for International Women's Day. But do you know what’s the origin of this day and why do we celebrate it? Read on to find out.
As we approach the 8th of March, in Kosovo, where I am from, women (and men allies) are gathering to prepare for International Women’s Day. Our most significant activity here is the march that we organize, on the main square of Prishtina, the capital of Kosovo. This year, we’re calling on the institutions to stop neglecting gender-based violence and treat cases more seriously.
Our government on the other hand, as well as many civil society organizations, mark the day distinctly by praising the achievements of women in the political and economic sphere. More inclusion will certainly be required, as women in Kosovo represent a really small percentage of workers in the labor market. I am sure the underrepresentation of women is pretty much the same in many countries in Europe, as care responsibilities continue to discriminate against women and hinder their growth.
But how did the 8th of March become the day, to demand more rights for women and rally for their justice?
The Origins of International Women’s Day
History tells us that International Women’s Day (IWD) has been marked since the early 1900s — a time of great expansion in the industrialized world.
According to IWD, in 1910 a second International Conference of Working Women was held in Copenhagen. The Leader of the ‘Women’s Office’ for the Social Democratic Party in Germany, Clara Zetkin was the one that proposed the idea of an International Women’s Day, suggesting that every year in every country there should be a celebration on the same day, a Women’s Day, to press for their demands. IWD states that the conference of over 100 women from 17 countries, representing unions, socialist parties, working women’s clubs, including the first three women elected to the Finnish parliament, greeted Zetkin’s suggestion with unanimous approval, and thus International Women’s Day was the result.
After this decision was approved, International Women’s Day was honored for the first time in Austria, Denmark, Germany, and Switzerland on March 19. There were more than one million women and men who attended the allies organized for IWD, and their demands persisted on women’s rights to work, vote, be trained, hold public office, and end discrimination.
Other countries around the world, started gradually marking the date too.
Moving forward, the United Nations celebrated International Women’s Day for the first time in 1975. Whereas ever since 1996 the UN would start announcing different themes for celebrating IWD. Their first annual theme back in 1996 was “Celebrating the past, planning for the Future”, preceded by “Women at the Peace table” in 1997, “Women and Human Rights” in 1998, and “World Free of Violence Against Women” in 1999. This tradition continues up to this date, with 2022 choosing the #Breakthebias theme. There are even pictures circulating, which promote this year’s campaign, with the aim of raising collective awareness towards the need for a world free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination.
Break The Bias
The International Women’s Day crew, who is doing all the virtual fuss online, invites people to even submit their ‘break the bias’ pose if they feel like joining the campaign. You can find the post and the submission procedures here.
Illustration: Nadia Grapes/shutterstock.com
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