IWD (International Women’s Day) is celebrated on March 8 each year.
Such recognition provides an opportunity to acknowledge the achievements of women and their contribution to society.
In many countries IWD is celebrated as a national holiday.
Women are frequently divided by national boundaries as well as by ethnic, linguistic, cultural, economic and political differences. IWD gives an opportunity to come together and reflect back on a tradition that represents a rich history of struggle for equality, justice, peace and development.
Today, IWD is regarded by many as the story of ordinary women as makers of history and is rooted in the long struggle by women to participate with equality in society.
The idea of an IWD first arose at the turn of the century – a period of expansion and turbulence in the industrialised world.
IWD inherited a tradition of protest and political activism.
In the years before 1910, from the turn of the 20th Century, women in industrially developing countries were entering paid work in increasing numbers. Their jobs were gender-segregated, mainly in textiles, manufacturing and domestic services where conditions were wretched and wages worse than depressed. Trade unions were developing and industrial disputes were starting to occur.
In continental Europe, some socialists viewed the growing demand for the women’s vote as being unnecessarily divisive in the working class movement whereas others successfully fought for it to be accepted as a necessary part of a socialist program.
The first IWD was held on March 19, 1911 in Germany, Austria, Denmark and other European countries. German women chose this particular day. On March 8 1848 the Prussian king, faced with an armed uprising, promised many reforms including the vote for women.
Before IWD in 1911 a million leaflets calling for action on the (still unfulfilled) right to vote were distributed throughout Germany.
Since those early years, IWD has assumed a new global dimension for women in both developed and developing countries alike.