International Women’s Day is held every year on 8th March, and aims to celebrate the achievements of women around the world and call for greater equality.
This year International Women’s Day focuses on the theme ‘Make it happen’, and is an opportunity for people to come together to celebrate women and inspire change.
History of International Women’s Day
International Women’s Day has been held annually since the early 1900s.
It all started after a rally in New York City back in 1908, when 15,000 women came together to demand better working conditions and voting rights. The women of America celebrated the first ‘National Woman’s Day’ a year later, and at an International Conference of Working Women in Copenhagen in 1910 it was decided that there should be an annual Women’s Day.
The first International Women’s Day was held in parts of Europe in March 1911. It brought a million women and men together to call for women’s rights to vote, work, hold public office, be trained, and for an end to discrimination.
Year after year the event has grown bigger, moving to its current date of 8th March in 1913. Now, it’s marked with events held by people around the world.
International Women’s Day Celebrations
While the day is still important as a way of highlighting the global inequality and discrimination that exists towards women, it is also used to show positive achievements that have been made to inspire further change.
People hold seminars to discuss ways to change things for the better, attend marches to highlight inequalities, hold markets to raise money, attend parties and networking events to meet other women and hear their stories.
The day is ever more important in countries with poor human rights records, as disadvantaged women and men can face persecution when standing up to inequality.
Some countries have quite different ways of marking International Women’s Day than with seminars and rallies. In China, Russia, and many other countries, 8th Marchis a national holiday and a day to celebrate the achievements of women and show them that they are respected and loved.
Romania, for instance, celebrates the day as Mother’s Day, with all women (not just mothers) being given tokens and best wishes from their families, friends and colleagues.
In many countries, women are given flowers for International Women’s Day. In France women typically receive violets, in Italy bright yellow mimosa. Some countries even honour women with gift giving, such as presents from employers and treats from children to their teachers.
This year, International Women’s Day also celebrates the 20th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, a landmark blueprint for progressing women’s rights around the world. Learn more about its inspiring actions and the progress that’s been made through the dedication of UN Women.
Make It Happen
‘Make It Happen’ is the 2015 theme for International Women’s Day.
Charities, women’s groups and other organisations around the world arrange conferences and activities for men and women to participate in. The International Women’s Day website has gathered together information on many events taking place, and you can browse through hundreds of listings for the UK. If you have time to plan a public event, you can add your own event details to the International Women’s Day website.
There are other ways to get involved on 8th March 2015 if you don’t have time to plan a big event. You could:
- Wear purple clothing – symbolising justice and equality
- Use the International Women’s Day logos on your Facebook page
- Arrange a lunch with colleagues and celebrate achievements of women you admire
- Take part in an event to raise awareness for gender equality
- Write a blog post or status update about a woman you admire
- Make dinner for your female friends
What else could people do to mark International Women’s Day 2015?