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The 1st International Women's Day

A short history of the 1st IWD celebration

Tina S
Tina S
Mar 8, 2010
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Happy International Women's Day to you all! International Women's Day (IWD) is marked on the 8th of March every year.International Women's Day, formally proclaimed by the United Nations as March 8th in 1975, has a long history that goes back to the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In the late 19th century women in the industrialized countries were entering the work force in some numbers in sex-segregated industry such as textiles, manufacturing, and domestic services often working in deplorable conditions. One of the earliest collective actions taken by women was in 1857 when thousands of women working in the New York garment industry took to the streets to protest unfair wages, a 12-hour work day, and harassment in the workplace.

It is a major day of global celebration of women. 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 a Socialist political event, the holiday blended in the culture of many countries, primarily  Eastern Europe, Russia, and the former Soviet block. In many regions, the day lost its political flavour, 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 St 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 international women’s day:

The first IWD was held on March 19, 1911 in Germany, Austria, Denmark and some other European countries. This date was chosen by German women because, on that date in 1848, the Prussian king, faced with an armed uprising, had promised many reforms, including an unfulfilled one of votes for women. A million leaflets calling for action on the right to vote were distributed throughout Germany before IWD in 1911. The idea of having an international women's day was first put forward at the turn of the 20th century amid rapid world industrialization and economic expansion that led to protests over working conditions.

Plans for the first International Women's Day demonstration were spread by word of mouth and in the press. During the week before International Women's Day two journals appeared: The Vote for Women in Germany and Women's Day in Austria.

Various articles were devoted to International Women's Day: 'Women and Parliament', 'The Working Women and Municipal Affairs', 'What Has the Housewife got to do with Politics?', etc.

The articles thoroughly analyzed the question of the equality of women in the government and in society. All articles emphasized the same point that it was absolutely necessary to make parliament more democratic by extending the franchise to women.

Success of the first International Women's Day in 1911 exceeded all expectation.

Meetings were organized everywhere in small towns and even the villages halls were packed so full that male workers were asked to give up their places for women.
Men stayed at home with their children for a change, and their wives, the captive housewives, went to meetings.

During the largest street demonstration of 30,000 women, the police decided to remove the demonstrators' banners so the women workers made a stand. In the scuffle that followed, bloodshed was averted only with the help of the socialist deputies in Parliament.

In 1913 International Women's Day was transferred to 8 March and this day has remained the global date for International Wommen's Day ever since.


The global United Nation theme used for International Women's Day 2010:


Equal rights, equal opportunities: Progress for all

On occasion of 2010 International Women's Day the International Committee of the Red Cross is drawing 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.

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