Join Us in Celebrating International Women's Day on March 8!
Every March, we celebrate Women's History Month, an annual declared month in the United States and worldwide that highlights contributions of women to events in history. Its origins are found in 1978 when the school district of Sonoma, California, participated in Women's History Week, a weeklong celebration designed around International Women's Day, which is now celebrated on March 8. In 1987, Congress expanded the celebration when March was declared Women's History Month. Its official centennial will be celebrated in 2011. The theme for 2009 is "Women and men united to end violence against women and girls."
Speaker Nancy Pelosi has even issued her own public statement on the celebration, in which she states "Every March, we take time to honor the many women whose courage and vision have helped build and sustain our nation. We honor those who fought for progress; we acknowledge those who lead the charge today; and we recommit ourselves to expanding opportunities for all." She also promises "Congress will continue to work to put women and children first. That includes investments in early childhood education, ensuring military families have the benefits they have earned and deserved, and strengthening the equal pay act. And as we do, we will take forward the lesson of Women's History Month: that by knowing their power, women can, and do, change the course of history for all Americans." You can read her entire statement on the PR Newswire.
International Women's Day has been observed since in the early 1900's, a time of great expansion and turbulence in the industrialized world that saw booming population growth and the rise of radical ideologies.
It all began in 1908, a time of great unrest and active campaigning by women demanding shorter hours, better pay and voting rights. In accordance with a declaration by the Socialist Party of America, the first National Woman's Day (NWD) was observed across the United States on February 28, 1909. Women continued to celebrate NWD on the last Sunday of February until 1913.
At a Socialist International meeting in Copenhagen in 1910, an International Women's Day of no fixed date was proposed to honour the women's rights movement and to assist in achieving universal suffrage for women. Over 100 women from 17 countries unanimously agreed the proposal. Three of these women were later elected the first women to the Finnish parliament.
International Women's Day (IWD) was honored the first time in Austria, Denmark, Germany, and Switzerland on March 19, 1911. More than one million women and men attended IWD rallies campaigning for women's rights to work, vote, be trained, to hold public office and end discrimination. Russian women observed their first International Women's Day on the last Sunday in February 1913.
For decades, IWD has grown from strength to strength annually. For many years the United Nations has held an annual IWD conference to coordinate international efforts for women's rights and participation in social, political and economic processes. 1975 was designated as 'International Women's Year' by the United Nations. Women's organizations and governments around the world have also observed IWD annually on March 8 by holding large-scale events that honor women's advancement and while diligently reminding of the continued vigilance and action required to ensure that women's equality is gained and maintained in all aspects of life.
IWD is now an official holiday in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bulgaria, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Macedonia, Moldova, Mongolia, Russisa, Tajikistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan and Vietnam. The tradition sees men honoring their mothers, wives, girlfriends, colleagues, etc with flowers and small gifts. In some countries IWD has the equivalent status of Mother's Day where children give small presents to their mothers and grandmothers.
The new millennium has witnessed a significant change and attitudinal shift in both women's and society's thoughts about women's equality and emancipation.
Annually on March 8th, thousands of events are held throughout the world to inspire women and celebrate their achievements. While there are many large-scale initiatives, a rich and diverse fabric of local activity connects women from all around the world ranging from political rallies, business conferences, government activities and networking events through to local women's craft markets, theatric performances, fashion parades, and more.
Many global corporations have also started to more actively support IWD by running their own internal events and through supporting external ones. For example, on March 8 search engine and media giant Google even changes its logo on its global search pages. Year after year IWD is certainly increasing in status. The site currently boasts 784 official IWD events being held in 51 countries worldwide!
The International Women's Day website at www.internationalwomensday.com provides a free service to women and organizations around the world wanting to share and promote their IWD activity, videos, opinions and ideas. The site invites contributors to submit gender-related items that you consider relevant and useful.
So as the official IWD FAQ page says, "make a difference, think globally and act locally!! Make every day International Women's Day. Do your bit to ensure that the future for girls is bright, equal, safe and rewarding."
Condensed from the official International Women's Day Website, hosted by Aurora