The first International Women’s Day was celebrated in March 1911. It had its origins in America a few years earlier where women had come together to protest against poor working conditions, resulting in a National Women’s Day being declared by the Socialist Party of America. Subsequently at an International Conference for Working Women in Copenhagen, attended by delegates from 17 countries, and including the first 3 women elected to the Finnish Parliament, a proposal to have a special day each year to focus on women’s issues was met with unanimous approval.
Austria, Germany, Switzerland and Denmark observed the first International Women’s Day in March 1911. More than a million men and women attended rallies in support of women’s right to work, right to vote, right to hold public office. In 1913, Russian women observed International Women’s Day campaigning for peace and in 1914, other European countries joined in.
In 1917, amid great unrest in Russia caused by millions of casualties, terrible food shortages, and with many women removed from farms to work in the factories, International Women’s Day prompted 90,00 workers to strike and the army at Petrograd to revolt. Attempts to end the unrest were not successful and Tsar Nicholas II abdicated some days later. The new provisional government granted universal suffrage with equality for women.
Down the decades, the movement has continued to grow and has become a worldwide event in countries all over the world. In 25 countries it is an official holiday while in China Madagascar and Nepal it is an official holiday for women only. In many countries from Bangladesh to Guinea, from Vietnam to Iceland, from Afghanistan to Zambia, events will take place on March 8th to mark International Women’s Day. The top 5 countries for International Women’s day activity to mark the centenary on March 8th are the UK, Canada, Australia, the United States and Ireland.
International Women’s Day has evolved into a global day of celebration of the achievements of women, socially, politically, and economically. Women’s rights campaigners highlight inequalities and raise money for Charity. Celebrities the world over associate themselves with the day – Annie Lennox will lead a march in London; people will march on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. demanding better conditions for marginalized women all over the world, Ban Ki-moon will issue a special address from the United Nations.
Cork will celebrate historic women astronomers, Dublin will have an exhibition about Hannah Sheehy Skeffington; Limerick hosts a photographic exhibition on the lives of women helped by Concern, Kilkenny has a business women’s lunch for charity. You can attend a tea party in Mallow, or attend a musical evening hosted by Amnesty International in PortLaoise; you can have pancakes in Sligo or experience Native American Ceremony in Gorey! There are dozens of other events. If you would like to see what is in your country, your area, click here. Not all events are taking place on Tuesday the 8th, so you may manage to attend more than one! Or why not have one yourself!
Visit the website of International Women’s Day