International Women’s Day (IWD) celebrates the political, social, cultural and economic achievements of women around the globe. The day is observed on 8 March every year and aims to raise awareness about gender equality in all spheres of life.
International Women's Day also tries to raise funds for female-focussed charities. The day also highlights how much more is needed to be done to bring about gender parity in the world.
This year the theme for International Women’s Day is hashtag #BreakTheBias. Women often find it tough to move ahead in life due to biased attitudes against them. The theme calls for action against the biases that women have to face on a daily basis. The United Nation has stated that it would celebrate the day with the theme, “Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow”.
The concept of specific colors for this day originated from the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU) in 1908 in the United Kingdom. The colors for International Women's Day are purple, green and white. According to the official website, the color purple signifies dignity and justice. Green symbolises hope, while the color white represents purity.
History and Significance:
IWD has been observed since the early 1900s. The period was a time of great change and turbulence, due to the rapid spread of ideologies such as Marxism as well as the rise of the suffragette movement.
In 1908, about 15,000 women marched through New York City demanding several rights including shorter work hours, better pay and voting rights. In 1909, the first National Women's Day was marked on 28 February in the United States in accordance with a decree by the Socialist Party of America.
On the last Saturday of February 1917, women in Russia began a strike for "bread and peace" to protest against the rising death toll of Russian soldiers in the First World War. This marked the start of the Russian Revolution. The protests continued, with several other sections of society joining in until the Russian Czar Nicholas II was forced to abdicate. The date when the women's strike started was 23 February, according to the Julian calendar, which was in use in Russia. According to the Gregorian calendar used in the rest of the world, the date was 8 March. This date then became associated with Women's Day.
IWD was celebrated by the United Nations for the first time in 1975. Later in December 1977, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution proclaiming a United Nations Day for Women’s Rights and International Peace. By the year 2000, activities and celebrations were being held in several countries for International Women's Day.
Then in 2001, the internationalwomensday.com platform was introduced with the purpose of re-energizing the day for accelerating gender parity.
IWD is also an official holiday in countries including Armenia, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Cuba, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Nepal, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, Uzbekistan and Vietnam among others.
On this day, some men honour the women in their lives by presenting them with flowers and gifts. Additionally, in few countries this special day has a status equivalent to Mother’s Day, wherein kids surprise their mothers and grandmothers with thoughtful presents.