3/7/2011 8:53 PM
International Women's Day
March 8th is International Women’s Day, a day celebrating the political, economic, and social achievements of women and a time when men throughout the world will honor the special women in their lives. Though relatively unknown in Western countries like Canada and the United States, International Women’s Day is an official holiday in Russia, Ukraine, Cambodia, China, Vietnam, and many other Eastern European and Asian nations. Tomorrow marks the 100th anniversary of this significant women’s holiday. Here’s a brief overview of this important day.
History of International Women’s Day
International Women’s Day (IWD) began as a Socialist event and over a million people in Germany, Denmark, Austria, and Switzerland first observed the holiday on March 19, 1911. In 1913, female activists in Russia banded together on IWD to protest World War I, and by 1914 women from other European countries added their voices to the protests in an expression of women’s solidarity.
The activism didn’t stop there. Inflamed by the deaths of over 2 million Russian soldiers in World War I, Russian women begin striking “for bread and peace” on March 8, 1917. The strike led to the eventual abdication of the Czar and the provisional government gave Russian women the right to vote. The protests helped paved the way for the Russian revolution and the rise of feminist Alexandra Kollontai. Kollontai fought for the rights of women and persuaded Lenin to make International Women’s Day a public holiday in the Soviet Union.
International Women’s Day Today
Over the years, International Women’s Day lost its feminist edge and has become more a celebration of women in general. Men honor women for their beauty, femininity, and mothering skills and present gifts of flowers, chocolate, perfume, makeup, etc. Breakfast in bed and a day’s respite from household chores are also treats women enjoy on this special day. Though International Women’s Day has been called a mix of Mother’s Day and St. Valentine’s Day, the holiday is not exclusive to mothers, wives, or sweethearts. Men honor all women on March 8, so daughters, sisters, friends, and co-workers receive tokens of appreciation as well. In many countries, International Women’s Day is an official holiday, so many women also enjoy a day off work!
Though IWD is primarily celebrated in Eastern Europe and Asia, celebrations exist around the world. Click to find International Women’s Day events in your country!