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History of International Women’s Day
Susan B. Anthony was a political activist and an advocate of women’s rights. After the Civil War, she fought for the 14th Amendment that was meant to grant all naturalized and native-born Americans citizenship in the hope that it would include suffrage rights. Although the 14th Amendment was ratified in 1868, it still didn’t secure their vote. In 1869, the National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA) was founded by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony to continue the fight for women’s rights.
In the early 1900s, women were experiencing pay inequality, a lack of voting rights, and they were being overworked. In response to all of this, 15,000 women marched through New York City in 1908 to demand their rights. In 1909, the first National Women’s Day was observed in accordance with a declaration by the Socialist Party of America. This was celebrated on the last Sunday of February until 1913.
An International Women’s Conference was organized in August 1910 by Clara Zetkin, a German suffragist and leader in the Women’s Office. Zetkin proposed a special Women’s Day to be organized annually and International Women’s Day was honored the following year in Austria, Denmark, Germany, and Switzerland, with more than one million attending the rallies. On August 18, 1920, the 19th Amendment was ratified and white women were granted the right to vote in the U.S.
The liberation movement took place in the 1960s and the effort led to the passage of the Voting Rights Act, allowing all women the right to vote. When the internet became more commonplace, feminism and the fight against gender inequality experienced a resurgence. Now we celebrate International Women’s Day each year as we push continuously with the hope of creating a completely equal society.
International Women’s Day timeline
The NWSA Forms
The National Women’s Suffrage Association was founded by Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton to advocate for women’s rights.
A Day for Women
Clara Zetkin proposes a Women’s Day celebration, and International Women’s Day is celebrated annually from this point forth.
All Women Can Vote
The women’s liberation movement fights for politics, work, the family, and sexuality and all women are given the right to vote.
New Age Feminism
With the age of the internet rising, the message of feminism becomes unified with a focused direction.
International Women’s Day — Survey Results
2017 — THE BIGGEST ISSUES FACING AMERICAN WOMEN
#1: Unequal pay (23%)
#2: The ability to balance a career and children (22%)
#3: Sexual violence (15%)
#4: Sexual objectification (15%)
#5: Reproductive rights (11%)
#6: Underrepresentation in politics (7%)
#7: Underrepresentation in business leadership (6%)
2018 — THE BIGGEST ISSUES FACING AMERICAN WOMEN
#1: Sexual violence (38%)
#2: Sexual objectification (35%)
#3: Unequal pay (34%)
#4: The ability to balance a career and children (32%)
#5: Underrepresentation in business leadership (20%)
#6: Reproductive rights (19%)
#7: Underrepresentation in politics (16%)
2018 — PROSECUTING SEXUAL ASSAULT AND HARASSMENT CRIMINALS
America should prosecute sexual assault and harassment criminals…
#1: More often (58%)
#2: The same amount (20%)
#3: The same amount, but reach more guilt verdicts (14%)
#4: Less often (7%)
2018 — THE BEST WAY TO STOP SEXUAL ASSAULT AND HARASSMENT
#1: A stricter legal system (43%)
#2: Prosecuting more criminals (43%)
#3: Better education (42%)
#4: Eliminating rape culture in media (35%)
#5: Workplace equality (29%)
As women come together to celebrate the advancement of gender equality and women’s rights on International Women’s Day, they receive ample support from men who give them flowers or other gifts. This tradition extends to educational institutes and workplaces as well. Inspiring female leaders and women with success stories in different areas of life are put in the spotlight to encourage and influence other women all over the world.
In Spain and Turkey, political activities and protests take place on this day. The aim is to motivate change in policymaking. In China, women are often allowed a half-day off from work and receive special treatment in general at work and home.
163.2 million – the number of females in the United States as of July 2015.
24% – the percentage of women in the U.S. Senate.
29% – the percentage of women in state legislative seats.
0% – the percentage of women as presidents of the United States.
40 billion – the number of hours spent by women in sub-Saharan Africa collecting water.
⅔ – of the world’s 796 million illiterate people are women.
1 in 3 – women around the world experience violence.
2.7 billion – the number of women who don’t have the same work opportunities as men.
82 million – the number of women worldwide who don’t have any legal protections against workplace discrimination.
650 million – the number of women who are married before the age of 18 across the world.
International Women’s Day FAQs
Is International Women’s Day an official holiday?
International Women’s Day is an official holiday in dozens of countries.
Is International Women’s Day always on daylight savings time?
March 8 is daylight savings time in various northern hemisphere territories, so it aligns with International Women’s Day for them.
Do women live longer than men?
Women generally live longer than men by six to eight years due to biological and behavioral advantages.
International Women’s Day Activities
There’s an International Women’s Day event in nearly every major city and you can pick and choose what attracts you most. There are concerts where you can listen to live music, art exhibitions where talented creators display their work, and networking summits where you can hear guest speakers discuss women’s rights.
Do like they do in the rest of the world
Send a bouquet, thank you card, or some small gift to your mother, sister, or co-worker. It’s guaranteed to brighten their day, give you a boost in their eyes, and help commemorate a wonderful day.
Learn more about a woman you admire
We all have our favorite musicians, actresses, and historical figures, but have you taken the time to truly know their story? Do some digging and learn about what their life was like. Chances are they’ve been through their fair share of trials and tribulations, and you’ll be inspired by their perseverance.
5 Facts About International Women’s Day
Recognized by the U.N.
In 1975, the United Nations officially adopted International Women’s Day.
A day for mothers
Serbia, Albania, Macedonia, and Uzbekistan celebrate International Women’s Day and Mother’s Day together.
Each year International Women’s Day has a theme and for 2020 it was «An equal world is an enabled world.»
In 2015, the U.N. reported that women still earn an average of 24% less than men do worldwide. Another study reveals that women get to save less than men with a 68 cents to a dollar ratio, for retirement.
Women are in session
In Algeria, women make up 70% of the country’s lawyers and 60% of its judges.
Why We Love International Women’s Day
It’s international and inter-organizational
No one government, NGO, charity, corporation, academic institution, women’s network, or media hub is solely responsible for International Women’s Day. International Women’s Day was established and has been celebrated for a long time! As Gloria Steinem says, “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.” We agree! The day is all about intersectionality, whether that’s the organizations that support International Women’s Day or the type of women the day celebrates.
It’s a global holiday
International Women’s Day is an official holiday in many countries including 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, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, and Zambia. The tradition sees men honoring their mothers, wives, girlfriends, colleagues, and more with flowers and small gifts. There might be cultural differences between countries, but the appreciation of women and their accomplishments transcends all boundaries.
It raises awareness around the world
It may seem that we have progressed very far by now. Although some progress has been made, yes, a recent study of 145 nations showed that there’s still a gender gap. Iceland has come closest to equality in economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, health and survival, and political empowerment, and that’s definitely a start. But in other places like Yemen, women are only considered half a witness in court cases. They’re even forbidden to leave the house without their husband’s permission. IWF was created to strive toward a standard of gender equality for all countries. Because, as we all know, raising awareness about women’s plight around the world helps elevate all women.
International Women’s Day
International Women’s Day is celebrated in some countries and is completely unknown in the others. It is a big holiday in Russia, but the symbolic meaning has changed from the equal rights day to a day when all women get praise for being women.
History of the International Women’s Day
The origins of that day are believed to go to 8th of March 1857, when female workers of textile industry went on strike in New York, demanding for better work conditions and higher salaries. In spring of 1908 women of New York City went on another street meeting, demanding women’s suffrage (the right of women to vote on the same terms as men).
In 1910 German communist Clara Zetkin offered to establish a special day in honor of fighting for equal rights for women. Since then women in different countries conducted meetings and went on strikes on a first week of spring to fight for their rights – to be treated equally, to vote and to receive equal payment and work benefits. International Women’s Day was officially acknowledged by the United Nations in 1975.
I am not a historian; therefore I was a bit confused by the different stories about the origins of the International Women’s Day and differences in the timelines, coming from the different sources. I decided to share with you the UN Women Watch piece on IWD, since that is the source I do trust.
And since my blogger’s experience shows that not many readers click on the outbound links, I also provide a video from that article here. Watch it, it is interesting and moving:
Is IWD Celebrated Worldwide Now?
No, it is well known and celebrated in some countries and completely unheard of in the others. From my personal experience I know that it is celebrated in Russia and other Eastern European countries, in Latin America and in Japan. I have asked my friends on Facebook last night whether they celebrate IWD in their countries. I found interesting that the US women do not know about that event, although their ancestors have started the women equal rights movement.
I want to quote my friend, who lives in the Dominican Republic:
In the Dominican Republic they do make mention of it. A lot of women here are influential personalities in Communications and other fields like Medicine and Arts. It’s more about women empowerment and how far we have come. Its not a holiday, everybody goes to work and the country continues its regular schedule, but some places and institutions have special activities including art and music showcasing the works of women. And of course its a special commercial day to go shopping, spa treatments, beauty treatments, etc… so any venue related to those appealing things for women will offer specials for the day.
I completely agree with such approach and the wording. “Women empowerment and how far we have come” – that phrase captures the essence of the International Women’s Day. It is a day to celebrates the successful fight of women from all over the world for their rights, full equality with men, democracy and peace.
However, in Russia, International Women’s Day’s meaning had completely altered over the years. I think that you will be amused to read about that.
8th of March in Russia
International Women’s Day in Russia has transformed in a day, when every girl or woman is congratulated and praised on being a female. I personally find that extremely weird. I want to be praised for being an expert in marketing, a good skier, a good photographer or a good friend/spouse/daughter etc. Being born as a girl was not my personal achievement – it was just a 49% probability.
Don’t get me wrong – I love to hear compliments and receive flowers and nice gifts. But I would rather get all that when men truly feel like it, not on the special day, when they are obliged to do so.
Here in Russia, 8th of March is an official holiday and a day off from work since 1965. This year 8th of March happens to fall on Saturday, so according to our rules – the following Monday is a day off. So the craziness actually began on 7th of March, when male colleagues, congratulate all females in the office.
Women dress up for the occasion; men are on their best behavior and appear with flowers and chocolates. Director of any company will make a speech, saying how much all male employees value presence of “the best half of the population” at the workplace. Afterwards – there will be an office party or a more posh corporate event at one of the city restaurants.
On 8th of March any girl or woman is treated like a princess. She will be spared of any household chores; husband and sons will clean the house, cook breakfast and other meals and might even bake the cake. Why is that a big deal? All other 364 days Russian men typically abstain from household chores. So, that day is the day for a woman to relax, watch TV, go to spa or do anything else she feels like doing.
Do People Like 8th of March in Russia?
The majority of women adores that holiday. The majority of men hates it, but understands that they have to comply with the rules.
That is the day when men have to congratulate all women they know – wife, mom, sister, grandmothers, aunts, all female colleagues and friends, teachers at the kids school and any other women they meet during the day. Men are expected to give flowers (yellow mimosas or tulips) to most of them and give a good present to the wife or girlfriend. And they have to say – “Congratulations with the 8th of March” thousand time during that day.
Women are also expected to congratulate other women. Gifts and flowers are obligatory for close female relatives and optional for acquaintances. At the workplace women do not bring flowers to the colleagues.
I think that partially the popularity of 8th of March could be explained – we don’t have the Mother’s Day in Russia and as I wrote in Dating in Russia, St’Val is also not universally celebrated. So that is the day, which is highly romantic and in the same time, enhances family relations.
What if You Are a Boy? Is There a Special Day for You?
Yes, there is! That day is exactly 2 weeks before 8th of March – on Feb 23rd. Initially that was a Red Army Day, then it transformed in a Defender of the Fatherland Day. Army connotations were strong at first, congratulations were for men, who currently serve in the army or used to be on duty. But as time passed – that day transformed in a universal Men’s Day. So men do get their share of praise and love on that day!
Power to the Women of the World! Celebrate or not – but remember how far we have come! I would love if you share with me and other readers your stories about International Women’s Day in your countries in the comments to this post!
Russia inherited several public holidays from the era of the Soviet Union. For example, Defender of the Fatherland Day (originally known as Red Army Day) is celebrated on February 23rd. In a broad sense, this holiday celebrates people who are serving or were serving the Russian Armed Forces. Due to a common Russian stereotype that the role of the defender is reserved for males, the holiday has more recently come to celebrate Russia’s men as a whole. However, there is also a special day for women—International Women’s Day—which is celebrated in the first month of spring on March 8th. One might compare March 8th in Russia with Mother’s Day in the West, although the Russian holiday celebrates all women, including mothers, grandmothers, daughters, and girlfriends.
How is March 8th celebrated?
March 8th (восьмо́е ма́рта) is also known as the International Women’s Day (Междунаро́дный же́нский день). This holiday emerged as a political celebration to symbolize the fight of women from all over the world for their rights, full equality with men, democracy and peace. As the time passed, the political motives of the holiday moved to the background and March 8th simply became a women’s holiday in Russia and other republics of the former USSR.
March 8th is an official public holiday. This beautiful spring holiday is most often celebrated in the family circle with a festive meal and champagne. Another popular choice to celebrate March 8th is by visiting friends. Men and women give flowers, postcards with poetry, chocolate, and other pleasant gifts to their mothers, wives, grandmothers, sisters and daughters. Some Russian men like to undertake all household duties on this day—starting with washing dishes and ending with cooking dinner and looking after children, so that women can enjoy a full day of rest.
Since the International Women’s Day is a non-working day in Russia, office workers celebrate it just the day before the holiday. In companies and organizations, all women receive flowers and small memorable gifts from their male co-workers and, sometimes, from employers themselves. During the lunch break, it is common to have a small office party with cake and a glass of champagne.
Popular Russian entertainers organize concerts and performances to create the festive mood on March 8th. The best singers and most talented actors perform on stage with songs and poems about love and beautiful women. However, very few Russians celebrate the holiday by going to concerts, theaters or movies. The traditional way to celebrate is at home among friends and family.
Although March 8th is a big holiday in Russia, some people choose not to celebrate it. This is especially common for older people who may not like extra hassle and spending money for presents. In fact, 14% of Russians did not plan to celebrate International Women’s Day in 2010 – the record number in the recent years.
What to give as a gift on March 8th?
Both men and women make presents to women they are close to. The gifts that Russians give on March 8th depend on many factors. A few things to consider are how closely you are related to a woman (whether she’s your grandmother, mother, wife, or a girlfriend) and what kind of a gift you can afford financially.
Flowers are the most popular gift choice on March 8th. Yellow mimosas and roses are especially popular. Candy and chocolate are the next popular choice, followed by perfume and cosmetics. Some people like to give money or gift cards, so that women could pick the best present for themselves. The list goes on and other gift choices include jewelry, household appliances, kitchen utensils, cut glass and China, clothes, footwear, books, DVDs, and even cell phones and cameras. Tastes differ but the rule of thumb is to give something that will please the woman.
According to a recent poll, most Russians follow their own judgment about what a woman would like to get as a gift (33%). Many Russians also directly ask what a woman would like to receive as a gift (25%) or pick a present that they can afford financially (23%). Less frequently, Russian men and women prefer to give a standard gift, such as flowers, perfume or chocolate (14%). It’s even less common to give money (8%) or consult with friends and relatives in choosing a gift (8%). Only 2% of Russians find it acceptable to make presents that they received from somebody else before.
10% of Russians do not observe the tradition of giving gifts on March 8th. At the same time, Russian men are more inclined to ask women about the choice of a gift directly (28%) or consult with friends and relatives (20%). Russian women are more inclined to give other women standard gifts (25%).
What do Russians think about March 8th?
In contemporary Russia, March 8th is first of all the day of warm feelings and excitement. One third of Russians think so, according to a poll conducted by the leading Russian sociological company VCIOM. Some Russians think of it as a tradition (16%) or an opportunity to make a pleasant surprise to women (15%). The holiday is viewed as just an extra day off by 14% of Russians, while 10% of Russians associate it with gifts and flowers. The International Women’s Day is a very special and important day for 7% of Russians, and only a few think of it as waste of money (2%).
Interestingly, Russian women often consider March 8th a day of pleasant emotions, high spirits, and vivid impressions. At the same time, Russian men find the holiday to be a good reason to please the fairer sex.
March 8th Congratulations and Wishes
When Russians want to congratulate someone with March 8th they say one of the following phrases:
- С восьмы́м ма́рта! [s vahs’-MIHM MAHR-ta]
- [I congratulate you] With March 8th!
- Поздравля́ю с восьмы́м ма́рта! [puhz-drahv-LYAH-yoo s vahs’-MIHM MAHR-ta]
- I congratulate you with March 8th!
- C Междунаро́дным же́нским днём! [s mehzh-doo-nuh-ROHD-nim ZHENS-keem dnyom]
- [I congratulate you] With International Women’s Day!
March 8th Poems in Russian
It’s not required to buy an expensive gift to show that you care about a person. Many women will be pleased to receive a postcard with a poem and a few words of congratulations. Even if you are away from your wife, mother, grandmother or sister, you can always send her a postcard or write an email. Here are some Russian poems that you can use on the occasion of March 8th.
— 1 —
Желаю счастья и любви.
Они дороже всех подарков.
И пусть все сбудутся мечты
В прекрасный день — 8 Марта!
— 2 —
Я тебя поздравляю, с праздником светлой Весны!
Радости, счастья желаю, сладкие видеть сны!
Пусть все невзгоды, ненастья, обходят тебя стороной!
Ведь это ж большое счастье, что встретились мы с тобой!
— 3 —
Пусть в этот день весенними лучами
Вам улыбнутся люди и цветы,
И пусть всегда идут по жизни с Вами
Любовь, здоровье, счастье и мечты!
— 4 —
С душистой веточкой сирени
Весна приходит в каждый дом,
От всей души Вас поздравляем
С Международным Женским днём!
For more March 8th poems in Russian, please visit www.pozdrav.ru
Ask them in the Russian Questions and Answers — a place for students, teachers and native Russian speakers to discuss Russian grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation, and other aspects of the Russian language.
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A wonderful holiday that exposes our sincere
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