International Women's Day (March 8) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity.
International Women's Day (IWD) has been observed since in the early 1900's -- a time of great expansion and turbulence in the industrialized world that saw booming population growth and the rise of radical ideologies.
International Women's Day is a collective day of global celebration. No one government, NGO (non-governmental organization), charity, corporation, academic institution, women's network, or media hub is solely responsible for International Women's Day. Many organizations declare an annual IWD theme that supports their specific agenda or cause, and some of these are adopted more widely with relevance than others.
"The story of women's struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organization but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights," says world-renowned feminist, journalist, and social and political activist Gloria Steinem.
Thus International Women's Day is all about unity, celebration, reflection, advocacy, and action -- whatever that looks like globally at a local level. But one thing is for sure, International Women's Day has been occurring for well over a century -- and continues to grow from strength to strength.
The conference of over 100 women from 17 countries, representing unions, socialist parties, working women's clubs -- and 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.
However, less than a week later on March 25th, the tragic "Triangle Fire" in New York City took the lives of more than 140 working women, most of them Italian and Jewish immigrants. This disastrous event drew significant attention to working conditions and labor legislation in the United States that became a focus of subsequent International Women's Day events. The year 1911 also saw women's Bread and Roses' campaign.
In 1914 further women across Europe held rallies to campaign against the war and to express women's solidarity. For example, in London in the United Kingdom there was a march from Bow to Trafalgar Square in support of women's suffrage on March 8, 1914. Sylvia Pankhurst was arrested in front of Charing Cross station on her way to speak in Trafalgar Square.
The date the women's strike commenced was Sunday, February 23 on the Julian Calendar then in use in Russia. This day on the Gregorian Calendar in use elsewhere was March 8th.