"The story of women's struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organization but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights," says Gloria Steinem, world-renowned feminist, journalist and social and political activist.
On the 8th of March, we celebrate the International Women's Day. We celebrate women achievements in different domains, such as cultural, political or economical achievements.
This day goes way back, in the early 1900's, a time of population growth and radical ideologies.
In 1908, women become more vocal and active in campaigning for change, because of the oppression and inequality of the time. 15.000 women marched together for shorter hours, better pay and voting rights, through New York.
In 1909, 28 February was declared the National Woman's Day in America. On the second International Conference of Working Women from Copenhagen, 1910, Clara Zetkin proposed to be an International Women's Day, so all women around the globe could be celebrated on the same day. There were 100 women from 17 countries at that conference and all approved the suggestion.
In the next year, on 19th March, Austria, Denmark, Germany, and Switzerland, celebrated the International Women's Day. There were campaigns for women's rights to work, vote, be trained, and end discrimination. However, on 25th March took place a terrible event: "Triangle Fire" in New York City which took the lives of more than 140 working women. The event drew attention to working conditions and labor legislation in the US.
In 1913 International Women's Day was transferred to 8th March. In 1914 women across Europe held campaigns against the war and expressed women's solidarity.
On 8th March 1917, in Russia, women began a strike for "bread and peace" in response to the soldiers' deaths in World War I. The strike ended with the Czar abdication and women's right to vote. (of course, there was also Lenin who took advantage of the moment)
In 1975 United Nations celebrates the International Women's Day. for the first time.
In 1996 the United Nations adopted an annual theme: "Celebrating the past, Planning for the Future". In 1997 the theme was "Women at the Peace table", and in 1998 "Women and Human Rights", and in 1999 "World Free of Violence Against Women".
In 2000 the feminism movement is losing track and people are moving on. In order to get the word out once again, in 2001, internationalwomensday.com was launched. On the platform, you could find the successful achievements of women. The platform also makes annually campaign themes, that are widely adopted. Some of those campaigns were: "Be Bold for Change", "Make it Happen" and more.
2011 was the 100 year International Women's Day celebration. In the US, President Barak Obama proclaimed the "Women's History Month" and Hillary Clinton launched the "100 Women Initiative: Empowering Women and Girls through International Exchanges".
In 2012 the theme for International Women's Day was "Empower Rural Women - End Hunger and Poverty".
In 2013 the theme was "A Promise is a Promise: Time for Action to End Violence Against Women". In 2014 we had "Equality for Women is Progress for All". Beyonce posted a portion of the "We Should All Be Feminists" speech by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie on her youtube channel. In 2015 we had "Empowering Women, Empowering Humanity: Picture it!" theme. The year is also the 20th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, "a historic roadmap that sets the agenda for realizing women's rights."
In 2016 the theme was "Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step It Up for Gender Equality". In India, the flight from Delhi to San Francisco, a 17 hours flight, had the entire flight operations handled by women, and the President, Shri Pranab Mukherjee said: "On the occasion of International Women's Day, I extend warm greetings and good wishes to the women of India and thank them for their contributions over the years in the building of our nation."
In 2017 the International Women's Day theme was "Women in the Changing World of Work: Planet 50-50 by 2030" and this year the theme is "Time is Now: Rural and urban activists transforming women’s lives".
How to Celebrate Women’s Day
The simplest way is to raise awareness about women's struggles and to honor their achievements. You can attend events organized for the day, make donations to women-oriented organizations, read books/comics about women, watch feminist movies/animation or just simply wear the color of the day which is purple.