international womens day piccy


In honour of International Women’s Day being held this Sunday, we wanted to provide further information into the background of this auspicious day; its significance, its history and its relevance in the 21st century.

While the broad description of International Women’s Day is a day to ‘celebrate women’s achievements’, the purpose and significance of the event is so much more. On the 8th of March, thousands of events ranging from political rallies, business conferences and government activities are held around the world to not only celebrate female achievement but to also unite, network and mobilise for positive change.

These events were first observed in the United States on 28 February, 1909. The Socialist Party of America designated this day in honour of the 1908 garment workers’ strike in New York, where women protested against working conditions. From there, The Socialist International meeting in Copenhagen, established a Women’s Day in 1910, to honour the movement for women’s rights and to build support for achieving universal suffrage for women. This proposal was greeted with unanimous approval by the conference.

As a result of the Copenhagen initiative, International Women’s Day was marked for the first time (19 March) in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland in 1911, where more than one million women and men attended rallies. In addition to the right to vote and to hold public office, they demanded women’s rights to work, to vocational training and an end to discrimination on the job.

From 1914 to 1918 International Women’s Day also became a mechanism for protesting World War I. Women held rallies across Europe during March to either protest the war or to express solidarity with other activists.

Since those early years, International Women’s Day has assumed a new global dimension for women in developed and developing countries alike. The growing international women’s movement has helped make the commemoration a rallying point to build support for women’s rights and participation in the political and economic arenas. Some have argued that in the western world, International Women’s Day has become somewhat redundant. After all, we can now vote, we can now work, and are no longer under our Husband’s thumb.

However the UN argues that while International Women’s Day is a time to celebrate and reflect on our progress, there is still much to work towards. The UN’s focus for 2015 is the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, a historic roadmap signed by 189 governments 20 years ago that sets the agenda for realizing women’s rights.

The Beijing Platform for Action focuses on 12 critical areas of concern, and envisions a world where each woman and girl can exercise her choices, such as participating in politics, getting an education, having an income, and living in societies free from violence and discrimination not just in the western world, but across the globe.

To this end, the theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is the clarion call of UN Women’s Beijing+20 campaign “Empowering Women, Empowering Humanity: Picture it!” Governments and activists across the world will come together to commemorate the ground-breaking Conference of 1995. This event will celebrate the many achievements that have come since, and galvanize action to address the gaps that still remain in making gender equality a reality.

To find out more visit the UN Women website: