Explained: Women’s Day has its history in the labour movement

https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/explained-womens-day-has-its-history-in-the-labour-movement-6305236/

By:
Explained Desk | New Delhi |

Updated: March 8, 2020 3:28:42 pm

In 1913, the date for IWD was shifted to March 8, and it remains as the official date to this day. (File)

Today, March 8, is marked worldwide as International Women’s Day (IWD). This is the 109th year of the celebration of the event.

The official IWD website describes the event as “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.”

The IWD 2020 campaign theme is “#EachforEqual”. The United Nations theme for the same is “I am Generation Equality: Realizing Women’s Rights”.

History of International Women’s Day

The origins of the IWD are rooted in the labour movement. In 1908, 15,000 women protested in New York City demanding better working conditions and voting rights. A year later, the Socialist Party of America passed a declaration, and the first National Woman’s Day (NWD) was observed across the United States on 28 February. The NWD was celebrated on the last Sunday of February until 1913.

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At the second International Conference of Working Women held in 1910, the German Marxist and women’s rights activist Clara Zetkin proposed the celebration of February 28 as Women’s Day in every country. The conference, which consisted of 100 women from 17 countries, including unions, socialist parties, working women’s clubs and female legislators, unanimously approved the suggestion– thus resulting in International Women’s Day being honoured for the first time in Austria, Denmark, Germany, and Switzerland in 1911.

In 1913, the date for IWD was shifted to March 8, and it remains as the official date to this day.

In the coming years, the IWD served as a rallying point for many movements. In 1914, women across Europe held marches against World War I (1914-1918), and female activists in the UK led demonstrations demanding voting rights on this day. In 1917, in response to the death of over 20 lakh soldiers in the War, Russian women began a strike for “bread and peace”. The strike continued for four days and led to the abdication of Tsar Nicholas II. The provisional government established in Russia granted women the right to vote. 

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