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Annually on 8 March, International Women's Day is celebrated worldwide by the United Nations and thousands of events are held throughout the world to inspire women and celebrate their achievements. A global web of rich and diverse local activity connects women from all around the world ranging from political rallies, business conferences, government activities and networking events to local women's craft markets, theatric performances, fashion parades and more.
The first International Women's Day was held March 19, 1911. The event grew from there and has been celebrated annually since. The focus is upon women workers, and advancing women's rights in the workforce, politics and society.
Over the years, IWD has increased in status with many global corporations running their own internal events or supporting external ones. The United States designates the whole month of March as Women's History Month.
So make a difference, think globally and act locally!! Make every day International Women's Day. Do your bit to ensure that the future for girls is bright, equal, safe and rewarding. Global Calendar of Events
2011 is the global centenary year for International Women's Day - 100 years since the first International Women's Day event was held.
Great unrest and critical debate was occurring among women. Women's oppression and inequality was spurring women to become more vocal and active in campaigning for change. Then in 1908, 15,000 women marched through New York City demanding shorter hours, better pay and voting rights.
In accordance with a declaration by the Socialist Party of America, the first National Woman's Day (NWD) was observed across the United States on 28 February. Women continued to celebrate NWD on the last Sunday of February until 1913.
In 1910 a second International Conference of Working Women was held in Copenhagen. A woman named Clara proposed that every year in every country there should be a celebration on the same day - a Women's Day - to press for their demands. The conference of more than 100 women from 17 countries greeted Zetkin's suggestion with unanimous approval and the result was International Women's Day (IWD).
Following the decision agreed at Copenhagen in 1911, International Women's Day (IWD) was honored the first time in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland on March19. More than one million women and men attended IWD rallies campaigning for women's rights to work, vote, be trained, to hold public office and end discrimination.
On the eve of World War I campaigning for peace, Russian women observed their first International Women's Day on the last Sunday in February 1913. In 1913 following discussions, International Women's Day was transferred to March 8 and this day has remained the global date for IWD ever since. In 1914, women across Europe held rallies to campaign against the war and to express women's solidarity.
1918 - 1999
Since its birth, IWD has grown to become a global day of recognition and celebration across developed and developing countries alike. For many years the United Nations has held an annual IWD conference to coordinate international efforts for women's rights and participation in social, political and economic processes. 1975 was designated as International Women's Year by the United Nations. Women's organizations and governments around the world have also observed IWD annually on March 8 by holding large-scale events that honor women's advancement, while diligently reminding people of the continued vigilance and action required to ensure that women's equality is gained and maintained in all aspects of life.
2000 and beyond
IWD is now an official holiday in Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, China (for women only), Cuba, Georgia, Guinea-Bissau, Eritrea, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Madagascar (for women only), Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Nepal (for women only), Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Vietnam and Zambia. The tradition sees men honoring their mothers, wives, girlfriends, colleagues, etc., with flowers and small gifts. In some countries IWD has the equivalent status of Mother's Day where children give small presents to their mothers and grandmothers.
The new millennium has witnessed a significant change and attitudinal shift in both women's and society's thoughts about women's equality and emancipation. Many from a younger generation feel that 'all the battles have been won for women' while many feminists know only too well the longevity and ingrained complexity of patriarchy. With more women in the boardroom, greater equality in legislative rights, and an increased critical mass of women's visibility as impressive role models in every aspect of life, one could think that women have gained true equality. The unfortunate fact is that women are still not paid equally to their male counterparts, women still are not present in equal numbers in business or politics, their education and health status remain troubling, while violence against them continues at alarming rates.
However, improvements have been made, so the tone and nature of IWD has, for the past few years, moved to including a celebration of accomplishments, in addition to highlighting continued need for changes.
www.internationalwomensday.com website is a global hub for sharing International Women's Day news, events and resources.