International Women's Day (IWD), originally called International Working Women's Day, is marked on March 8 every year. In different regions the focus of the celebrations ranges from general celebration of respect, appreciation and love towards women to a celebration for women's economic, political and social achievements. Started as aSocialist political event, the holiday blended in the culture of many countries, primarilyEastern Europe, Russia, and the former Soviet bloc. In some regions, the day lost its political flavor, and became simply an occasion for men to express their love for women in a way somewhat similar to a mixture of Mother's Day and Valentine's Day. In other regions, however, the original political and human rights theme designated by the United Nations runs strong, and political and social awareness of the struggles of women worldwide are brought out and examined in a hopeful manner.
The first national Women's Day was observed on 28 February 1909 in the United States following a declaration by the Socialist Party of America. In August 1910, an International Women's Conference was organized to precede the general meeting of the Socialist Second International in Copenhagen. Inspired in part by the American socialists, German Socialist Luise Zietz proposed the establishment of an annual 'International Woman's Day' (singular) and was seconded by communist Clara Zetkin, although no date was specified at that conference.Delegates (100 women from 17 countries) agreed with the idea as a strategy to promote equal rights, including suffrage, for women. The following year, on 18 March 1911, IWD was marked for the first time, by over a million people in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland. In the Austro-Hungarian Empire alone, there were 300 demonstrations. In Vienna, women paraded on the Ringstrasse and carried banners honouring the martyrs of the Paris Commune. Women demanded that women be given the right to vote and to hold public office. They also protested against employment sex discrimination. Americans continued to celebrate National Women's Day on the last Sunday in February.
In 1913 Russian women observed their first International Women's Day on the last Sunday in February (by Julian calendar then used in Russia). In 1917 demonstrations marking International Women's Day in Saint Petersburg on the last Sunday in February (which fell on 8 March on the Gregorian calendar) initiated the February Revolution.
Following the October Revolution, the Bolshevik Alexandra Kollontai persuaded Vladimir Lenin to make it an official holiday in the Soviet Union, and it was established, but was a working day until 1965. On May 8, 1965 by the decree of the USSR Presidium of the Supreme Soviet International Women's Day was declared a non-working day in the USSR "in commemoration of the outstanding merits of Soviet women in communistic construction, in the defense of their Fatherland during the Great Patriotic War, in their heroism and selflessness at the front and in the rear, and also marking the great contribution of women to strengthening friendship between peoples, and the struggle for peace. But still, women's day must be celebrated as are other holidays."
From its official adoption in Russia following the Soviet Revolution in 1917 the holiday was predominantly celebrated in communist and socialist countries. It was celebrated by the communists in China from 1922, and by Spanish communists from 1936. After the founding of the People's Republic of China on October 1, 1949 the state council proclaimed on December 23 that March 8 would be made an official holiday with women in China given a half-day off.
In the West, International Women's Day was first observed as a popular event after 1977 when the United Nations General Assemblyinvited member states to proclaim March 8 as the UN Day for women's rights and world peace.
2010 International Women's Day
On the occasion of 2010 International Women's Day the ICRC drew attention to the hardship displaced women endure. The displacement of populations is one of the gravest consequences of today's armed conflicts. It affects women in a host of ways.
2011 International Women's Day
Events took place in more than 100 countries on March 8, 2011 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of International Women's Day. In the United States, President Barack Obamaproclaimed March 2011 to be "Women's History Month", calling Americans to mark IWD by reflecting on "the extraordinary accomplishments of women" in shaping the country's history. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton launched the "100 Women Initiative: Empowering Women and Girls through International Exchanges", on the eve of IWD. In the run-up to 2011 International Women's Day, theInternational Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) called on States and other entities not to relent in their efforts to prevent rape and other forms of sexual violence that harm the lives and dignity of countless women in conflict zones around the world every year. In Pakistan, Punjab Govt. Project Gender Reform Action Plan, District Gujranwala celebrated this day in large scale in the Gift University Gujranwala. Mrs. Shazia Ashfaq Mattu, MPA and GRAP officer Mr. Dr. Yasir Nawaz Manj organized the events in very effective manners.http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=International_Women%27s_Day&action=edit
2012 International Women's Day
The UN theme for International Women’s Day 2012 was Empower Women – End Hunger and Poverty. In that year, Oxfam America invited people to celebrate inspiring women in their lives by sending a free International Women’s Day e-Card or honoring a woman whose efforts had made a difference in the fight against hunger and poverty with Oxfam’s International Women’s Day award.
On the occasion of International Women's Day 2012, the ICRC called for more action to help the mothers and wives of people who have gone missing during armed conflict. The vast majority of people who go missing in connection with conflict are men. As well as the anguish of not knowing what has happened to the missing person, many of these women face economic and practical difficulties. The ICRC underlined the duty of parties to a conflict to search for the missing and provide information for the families.
The Google Doodle for March 8, 2012 had an International Women's Day theme.
2013 International Women's Day
The UN theme for International Women's Day 2013 is "A promise is a promise: Time for action to end violence against women,"while International Women's Day 2013 has declared the year's theme as The Gender Agenda: Gaining Momentum. 
2017 International Women's Day
2017 will be the hundredth anniversary of the Russian Revolution, which was sparked on March 8, 1917 by women protesting against bread shortages in St. Petersburg. These events culminated in the abdication of Tsar Nicholas II on March 15. Worldwide celebrations and re-enactments are scheduled to begin on March 8, 2017. Among the organisers is the Ukrainian women's direct action group FEMEN, which aims "to shake women in Ukraine, making them socially active; to organize in 2017 a women's revolution."
On this day a global women's strike including a sex strike is planned, called by, among others, the International Union of Sex Workers.
International Women's Day Official UN Themes
|Year||UN Theme |
|1996||Celebrating the Past, Planning for the Future|
|1997||Women and the Peace Table|
|1998||Women and Human Rights|
|1999||World Free of Violence Against Women|
|2000||Women Uniting for Peace|
|2001||Women and Peace: Women Managing Conflicts|
|2002||Afghan Women Today: Realities and Opportunities|
|2003||Gender Equality and the Millennium Development Goals|
|2004||Women and HIV/AIDS|
|2005||Gender Equality Beyond 2005; Building a More Secure Future|
|2006||Women in Decision-making|
|2007||Ending Impunity for Violence Against Women and Girls|
|2008||Investing in Women and Girls|
|2009||Women and Men United to End Violence Against Women and Girls|
|2010||Equal Rights, Equal Opportunities: Progress for All|
|2011||Equal Access to Education, Training, and Science and Technology: Pathway to Decent Work for Women|
|2012||Empower Rural Women, End Poverty and Hunger|
|2013||A Promise is a Promise: Time for Action to End Violence Against Women|
In modern culture
The day is an official holiday in Afghanistan, Angola, Armenia, Azerbaijan,Belarus, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, China (for women only), Cuba,Georgia, Guinea-Bissau, Eritrea, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Laos,Macedonia (for women only), Madagascar (for women only), Moldova, Mongolia,Montenegro, Nepal (for women only), Russia, Tajikistan,Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, and Zambia.
In some countries, such as Cameroon, Croatia, Romania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Bulgaria and Chile, the day is not a public holiday, but is widely observed nonetheless. On this day it is customary for men to give the women in their lives – mothers, wives, girlfriends, daughters, colleagues, etc. – flowers and small gifts. In some countries (such as Bulgaria and Romania) it is also observed as an equivalent of Mother's Day, where children also give small presents to their mothers and grandmothers.
In Armenia, after the collapse of the Soviet Union celebrations of IWD were abandoned. Instead, April 7 was introduced as state holiday of ‘Beauty and Motherhood’. The new holiday immediately became popular among Armenians, as it commemorates one of the main holidays of the Armenian Church, the Annunciation. However, people still kept celebrating IWD on March 8 as well. Public discussion held on the topic of two ‘Women’s Days’ in Armenia resulted in the recognition of the so-called ‘Women’s Month’ which is the period between March 8 and April 7.
In Italy, to celebrate the day, men give yellow mimosas to women. Yellow mimosas and chocolate are also one of the most common March 8 presents in Russia and Albania.
In many countries, such as in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil,Bulgaria, Croatia, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland,Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Romania, Russia, Serbia,Slovakia, Slovenia and Ukraine the custom of giving women flowers still prevails. Women also sometimes get gifts from their employers. Schoolchildren often bring gifts for their teachers, too.
In countries like Portugal groups of women usually celebrate on the night of 8 March in "women-only" dinners and parties.
In Pakistan working women in formal and informal sectors celebrate International Women's Day every year to commemorate their ongoing struggle for due rights, despite facing many cultural and religious restrictions. Some women working for change in society use IWM to help the movement for women's rights. In Poland, for instance, every IWD includes large feminist demonstrations in major cities.
In 1975, which was designated as International Women’s Year, the United Nations gave official sanction to, and began sponsoring, International Women's Day.
The 2005 Congress (conference) of the British Trades Union Congress overwhelmingly approved a resolution calling for IWD to be designated a public holiday in the United Kingdom.
Since 2005, IWD has been celebrated in Montevideo, either on the principal street, 18 de Julio, or alternatively through one of its neighbourhoods. The event has attracted much publicity due to a group of female drummers, La Melaza, who have performed each year.
Today, many events are held by women's groups around the world. The UK-based marketing company Aurora hosts a free worldwide register of IWD local events  so that women and the media can learn about local activity. Many governments and organizations around the world support IWD.
70% of those living in poverty are women and Oxfam GB encourages women to Get Together  on International Women's Day and fundraise to support Oxfam projects, which change the lives of women around the world. Thousands of people hold events for Oxfam on International Women's Day, join the celebration by visiting the website and registering their events.
In some cases International Women's Day has led to questionable practices that discriminated against men. For example Tower Hamlets Council closed off one of its libraries to all males to "celebrate" the occasion, forcing them to travel elsewhere, going as far as even banning male staff from the premises.
In Communist Czechoslovakia, huge Soviet-style celebrations were held annually. After the fall of Communism, the holiday, generally considered to be one of the major symbols of the old regime, fell into obscurity. International Women's Day was re-established as an official "important day" by the Parliament of the Czech Republic only recently[when?], on the proposal of the Social Democrats andCommunists. This has provoked some controversy as a large part of the public as well as the political right see the holiday as a relic of the nation's Communist past. In 2008, the Christian conservative Czechoslovak People's Party's deputies unsuccessfully proposed the abolition of the holiday. However, some non-government organizations consider the official recognition of International Women's Day as an important reminder of women's role in the society.
International Women's Day sparked violence in Tehran, Iran on March 4, 2007, when police beat hundreds of men and women who were planning a rally. Police arrested dozens of women and some were released after several days of solitary confinement and interrogation. Shadi Sadr, Mahbubeh Abbasgholizadeh and several more community activists were released on March 19, 2007, ending a fifteen day hunger strike.
A popular apocryphal story which surfaced in French Communist circles claimed that women from clothing and textile factories had staged a protest on 8 March 1857 in New York City. The story alleged that garment workers were protesting against very poor working conditions and low wages and were attacked and dispersed by police. It was claimed that this event led to a rally in commemoration of its 50th anniversary in 1907. Temma Kaplan explains that "neither event seems to have taken place, but many Europeans think March 8, 1907 inaugurated International Women's Day." Speculating about the origins of this 1857 legend, Liliane Kandel and Françoise Picq suggested it was likely that (in recent times) some felt it opportune to detach International Women's Day from its basis in Soviet history and ascribe to it a more "international" origin which could be painted as more ancient than Bolshevism and more spontaneous than a decision of Congress or the initiative of those women affiliated to the Party.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Commons:RIA Novosti/Women's day|
- Communist Women's International
- International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women
- International Men's Day
- List of uprisings led by women
- Susan B. Anthony Day
- UN Women
- "UN WomenWatch: International Women's Day - History". UN.org. Retrieved 2013-02-21.
- "United Nations page on the background of the IWD". Un.org. Retrieved 2012-03-08.
- Temma Kaplan, "On the Socialist Origins of International Women's Day", Feminist Studies, 11/1 (Spring, 1985)
- "History of International Women's Day". United Nations. Retrieved 26 May 2012.
- About International Women's Day
- Nelson, Jinty. "International Women’s Day: a centenary to celebrate". History Workshop Online. Retrieved 28 August 2011.
- "Anniversaries of important events". China Factfile. Chinese Government. Retrieved 28 August 2011.
- "WomenWatch: International Women's Day". Un.org. Retrieved 2012-03-08.
- "Women and displacement: strength in adversity". International Committee of the Red Cross. 2010-03-02. Retrieved 2012-03-08.
- Sindelar, Daisy. "Women's Day Largely Forgotten In West, Where It Got Its Start". Radio Free Europe. Radio Free Europe. Retrieved 8 March 2011.
- Pasha, Masroor Afzal. "To commemorate 100th International Women’s Day". Daily Times. Daily Times. Retrieved 8 March 2011.
- McKellogg, JulieAnn. "Clinton Launches 100th Anniversary of International Women's Day". VOA News. voanews.com. Retrieved 8 March 2011.
- "International Women's Day: the fight against sexual violence must not falter". Icrc.org. Retrieved 2012-03-08.
- "UN WomenWatch: International Women's Day 2012 - UN Observances Worldwide". Un.org. Retrieved 2013-02-20.
- "http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=International_Women%27s_Day&action=editInternational Women's Day Celebration". Actfast.oxfamamerica.org. Retrieved 2012-03-08.
- Helping women take matters into their own handsInternational Committee of the Red Cross
- "UN WomenWatch: International Women's Day 2012". Un.org. Retrieved 2013-02-20.
- "INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S DAY 2013 Theme: The Gender Agenda - Gaining Momentum". Aurora Ventures. Retrieved 2013-02-20.
- (Ukrainian) Femen: "Ми даємо чиновникам і політикам, проср...тися", Табло ID (September 20, 2010)
- "WomenWatch: International Women's Day". Un.org. Retrieved 2013-02-21.
- "IRIN Asia | AFGHANISTAN: Marking International Women's Day | Afghanistan | Gender Issues". Irinnews.org. 2005-03-08. Retrieved 2012-03-08.
- "Armenian Holidays - ARMENIA Information". Armeniainfo.am. 1995-07-05. Retrieved 2012-03-08.
- (Russian) President's decree on public holidays in Belarus - 1998
- [dead link]
- "2007 Cambodia Public Holiday - Cambodia e-Visa Blog". Cambodiaevisa.com. 2007-08-04. Retrieved 2012-03-08.
- "Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores de Cuba". Cubaminrex.cu. 2011-03-08. Retrieved 2012-03-08.
- "დღესასწაულები". Embassy.mfa.gov.ge. Retrieved 2012-03-08.
- "Official holidays in the Republic of Kazakhstan". E.gov.kz. Retrieved 2012-03-08.
- "Kyrgyz and American Holidays (In Russian)". U.S. Embassy Bishkek. Retrieved 7 March 2012.
- [dead link]
- "Madagascar 2009 Public Holidays". Qppstudio.net. Retrieved 2012-03-08.
- (Romanian) Article 111 (1c) of the work codex of Moldova,PDF, page 53 "Article 111. Non-working holidays. (1) in Moldova, non-working holidays, maintaining the average salary, are: (...) c) March 8 - International Women's Day; (...)".
- "Mongolia Web News". Mongolia-web.com. Retrieved 2012-03-08.
- "National Holidays (In Russian)". Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Uzbekistan. Retrieved 7 March 2012.
- "Hanoi streets jammed on Int’l Day for Women | Vietnam News & Information Portal". En.www.info.vn. 2011-03-09. Retrieved 2012-03-08.
- "Zambia 2009 Public Holidays". Qppstudio.net. Retrieved 2012-03-08.
- "QPPstudio.net". QPPstudio.net. Retrieved 2012-03-08.
- (Croatian) Zakon o blagdanima, spomendanima i neradnim danima u Republici Hrvatskoj
- "Ziua Internațională a Femeii. De 8 martie Google posteaza un desen pentru acest eveniment". Agentia.org. 2010-11-24. Retrieved 2012-03-08.
- "Žene su heroji ovog društva (in Bosnian)". Oslobodjenje. 8 March 2012. Retrieved 8 March 2012.
- "Días Nacionales en Chile (in Spanish)". Farah.cl. Retrieved 2012-03-08.
- "la Repubblica/societa: 8 marzo, niente manifestazione tante feste diverse per le donne". Repubblica.it. Retrieved 2012-03-08.
- "politica » Festa della donna, parla Ciampi "La parità è ancora lontana"". Repubblica.it. 2006-03-08. Retrieved 2012-03-08.
- "March 8 in Poland: Still Marching Together for Freedom and Equality". Ippf.org. Retrieved 2012-03-08.
- "Travel Guide to Uruguay - Uruguay gets a female beat". UruguayNow. Retrieved 2012-03-08.
- "www.oxfam.org.uk/womensday". Oxfam.org.uk. Retrieved 2012-03-08.
- [dead link]
- Harrison, Frances (2007-03-08). "Middle East | Iranian women struggle for equality". BBC News. Retrieved 2012-03-08.
- "Iran: Release Women's Rights Advocates | Human Rights Watch". Hrw.org. 2007-03-08. Retrieved 2012-03-08.
- Temma Kaplan, On the Socialist Origins of International Women's Day, in: Feminist Studies, 11, 1985, S. 163-171. (PDF)
- Liliane Kandel / Françoise Picq, Le Mythe des origines à propos de la journée internationale des femmes, in: La Revue d'en face, 12, 1982, S. 67-80.
- Angela Howard Zophy, Handbook of American women's history, Garland, 1990, 187.
|Find more about International Women's Day at Wikipedia's sister projects|
|Media from Commons|
|News stories from Wikinews|
|Quotations from Wikiquote|
|Source texts from Wikisource|
|Travel information from Wikivoyage|
- International Womens Day
- Women and war - International Committee of the Red Cross
- International Museum of Women
- Article from international communist organization on International Women's Day
- International Women's Day 2007 - United Nations web site
- International Women's Day Celebration
- More detailed overview
- Sewing a better future on International Women’s Day
- Towards International Women's Day 2011
- Worldwide Stamps Released On International Women's Day
- Wings & Dreams: 4 Elements of a New Feminism
- International Women’s Day Marked Around the World - video by Democracy Now!'
- International Women's Day - live blogging from Reuters
- On IWD's centenary, historian Jinty Nelson looks at its genesis and achievements - and the ground still to cover