The latest of my Dates Of Note is International Women’s Day, which is this Friday, 8th March. I would imagine that most have heard of this, as it has been in existence far longer than any of us, but you may not know much about why it is a designated day, and what happens to support it. The following is an edited extract from a history of IWD on the official website, which sets out the raison d’être and gives you a feel for what happens around the world:
“International Women’s Day (IWD) has been observed since in the early 1900’s. Since its birth in the socialist movement, IWD has grown to become a global day of recognition and celebration across developed and developing countries alike. 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 organisations and governments around the world have also observed IWD annually on 8 March by holding large-scale events that honour 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. These events connect women from all around the world, and range from political rallies, business conferences, government activities and networking events through to local women’s craft markets, theatrical performances, fashion parades and more.
IWD is now an official holiday in Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, China (for women only), Cuba, Georgia, Guinea-Bissau, Eritrea, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Madagascar (for women only), Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Nepal (for women only), Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Vietnam and Zambia. The tradition sees men honouring 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.
Over the years, great improvements have been made. We do have female astronauts and prime ministers, schoolgirls are welcomed into university, women can work and have a family, women have real choices. And so the tone and nature of IWD has, for the past few years, moved from being a reminder about the negatives to a celebration of the positives.
So make a difference, think globally and act locally !! Make everyday International Women’s Day. Do your bit to ensure that the future for girls is bright, equal, safe and rewarding.”
If this has, as I hope, encouraged you to find out more or to get involved, the official website is at: http://internationalwomensday.com/default.asp
There is a huge amount on this site, about the history of IWD and the ways it is marked around the world. It is well worth a little of your time so I hope you can visit it.