Scroll To Top
History

Here's the fascinating history behind International Women's Day

Here's the fascinating history behind International Women's Day

International Women's Day
Shutterstock

The history of International Women's Day goes beyond feminism, which reminds us of the deep ties between gender equality and class struggle.

First things first, happy International Women's Day to all women!

For over a century, International Women's Day has been celebrated around the world to shed a light on women's achievements and the challenges still facing them.

But the history of the holiday goes beyond feminism, reminding us every year of the deep ties between gender equality and class struggle. International Women's Day began in socialist circles, and its legacy today in many places is linked to labor rights.

Scroll through to read the history of International Women's Day, including some fun facts you might not know!

When was the first Woman's Day?

The first National Woman's Day was on 28 February in the United States. The Socialist Party of America chose the date in honor of the 1908 New York garment workers' strike, in which women protested dangerous working conditions and inadequate wages.

How did International Women's Day start?

The idea of a global Women’s Day was proposed in 1910 by German women's rights activist Clara Zetkin, leader of the country's Women’s Office for the Social Democratic Party. On March 19, 1911, Austria, Denmark, Germany, and Switzerland participated in the first International Women’s Day.

The United Nations would first recognize International Women's Day decades later in 1975.

Is International Women's Day a holiday?

International Women's Day is an official national holiday in Armenia, Belarus, Cambodia, Cuba, Georgia, Laos, Mongolia, Montenegro, Russia, Uganda, Ukraine, and Vietnam. It has been merged with Mother's Day in Albania, Macedonia, Serbia, and Uzbekistan.

Though it may not be an official holiday elsewhere, it is still widely observed by nations around the globe.

How is International Women's Day celebrated?

It is customary in many places to give women family members, friends, or colleagues gifts in celebration of International Women's Day. In Italy, men give yellow mimosa flowers to women, and in China, women get a half day off of work.

Other nations, particularly eastern European countries, see International Women's Day as a day of protest. While the day is meant to call attention to gender inequality broadly, many demonstrations held on the date focus on the disparities in labor specifically.

Why is International Women's Day significant in Russia?

A demonstration on Women's Day in 1917 Russia is how women in the country earned the right to vote. Textile workers walking off the job led to a widespread strike for "bread and peace" on February 23, with women demanding an end to World War I, food shortages, and the monarchy. The protests led to Tsar Nicholas II's abdication, and the interim government granted women the right to vote.

Why is International Women's Day on March 8?

The date of March 8 was chosen in honor of the Russian women's protests of 1917. Russia had not yet adopted the Gregorian calendar, making February 23 in Russia correspond to 8 March in the other European countries.

Is there an International Men's Day?

International Men's Day is celebrated on 19 November in over 80 countries globally. It began in the 1990s, with the date being chosen by its founder after his father's birthday. It is not recognized by the U.N.

Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Fellow Travelers & Jamie Lee Curtis

From our Sponsors

Most Popular

Latest Stories

author avatar

Ryan Adamczeski

Ryan is a staff writer at the Advocate, and a graduate of New York University Tisch's Department of Dramatic Writing, with a focus in television writing and comedy. She first became a published author at the age of 15 with her YA novel 'Someone Else's Stars', and is now a member of GALECA, the LGBTQ+ society of entertainment critics. In her free time, Ryan likes watching New York Rangers hockey, listening to the Beach Boys, and practicing witchcraft.

Ryan is a staff writer at the Advocate, and a graduate of New York University Tisch's Department of Dramatic Writing, with a focus in television writing and comedy. She first became a published author at the age of 15 with her YA novel 'Someone Else's Stars', and is now a member of GALECA, the LGBTQ+ society of entertainment critics. In her free time, Ryan likes watching New York Rangers hockey, listening to the Beach Boys, and practicing witchcraft.