For over a century, 8th of March has been celebrated as the day of women. The celebrations started quite informally in the very early 1900s when the society saw significant population boom and emergence of radical ideologies. In 1908, the Women’s Social and Political Union in the UK popularized the use of four colors to symbolize feminism – the combination of purple and green symbolized traditional feminism, while purple and yellow symbolized progressive feminism.
The next important step was taken in the year 1909 when National Woman’s Day was celebrated for the first time in the USA. Baby steps were taken in the succeeding months, and when the International Conference of Working Women was held in Copenhagen in 1910, Clara Zetkin presented the idea of an International Women’s Day to be held in all countries across the world. This idea went on to become the basis of the formal celebration of the International Women’s Day that was honored in Germany, Denmark, Switzerland, and Austria for the first time on March 19th, 1911. However, the day for the celebration was changed to March 8 following several talks on important platforms. Ever since March 8 has been honored and celebrated as the International Women’s Day in all countries worldwide.
The need of International Women’s Day
When the informal celebrations began in the UK and later in the US, the main agenda was to gain rights for women who were then repressed. Among the various initial demands that were on the table, the most important was the right to vote, holding posts in public offices, equal employment facilities, vocational training and much more. Rallies, protests, and marches were held country-wide to gain better facilities for women and to bring an end to the gender discrimination that was strikingly in vogue at the time.
With the passing years, as the basic demands were gradually fulfilled, limelight was shed on other pressing matters like better working conditions, participation in politics, receiving public education, discrimination-free living, equal wages, running businesses, etc. More issues were added with the changing scenario and women’s associations, NGOs, socialist parties, unions and other organizations across the world have succeeded in improving conditions to a great degree over the last 100 years.
International Women’s Day – its relevance today
Though a lot of change has been seen in the status and condition of women across the world, yet the goal of the celebration of the day has hardly been achieved. Even today, not all countries have been able to offer equal rights to women. There is a wide gap in the pay grade, even in the developed countries. Cases of sexual abuse against women are on the rise. Though participation of women in politics, public affairs, businesses, etc. has significantly increased in the recent years, yet their numbers are far from equal. As such, the day still remains relevant in the present times and is an important reminder to men and women worldwide to strive harder for equal rights and a domination-free society for all.