Happy International Women’s Day! Today is a global celebration to honor the achievements of women. No one group of people is responsible for this day – instead, it is kind of planned and organized in different communities in the world in different ways.
More Than A Century Of Celebration
The day is all about recognition, reflection, unity, advocacy, and action. The celebration has been occurring for more than a century and it continues to grow each year. The first International Women’s Day was held in March 1911 in Austria, Denmark, Germany, and Switzerland. After women gained suffrage in Soviet Russia, in 1917, March 8 became a national holiday there. The United Nations began celebrating the day in 1977.
Celebration Throughout The World
The celebration varies in all parts of the world. Some countries celebrate today as a public holiday. Other countries basically ignore the day. Some countries use the day for protesting. However, the overall celebration is the celebration of womanhood. The celebration of March 8, 1917, in Petrograd, Russia was women demonstrating for bread. IWD, in 2010, the International Committee of the Red Cross drew attention to the hardships displaced women endure. The same forum continued by the group in 2011. It was much larger, with more than 100 countries participating.
Former President Participated In Marking The Day
Former President Barack Obama proclaimed March 2011 to be “Women’s History Month.” He called on Americans to mark IWD by reflecting on the extraordinary accomplishments of women in shaping the country’s history. At the time, then-Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton launched the “100 Women Initiative: Empowering Women and Girls Through International Exchanges.”
“I am Generation Equality: Realizing Women’s Rights,” is the UN theme for IWD for 2020. The celebration involving large gatherings has been somewhat discouraged due to the coronavirus outbreak. Despite the outbreak, there was a large celebration in London. Due to the coronavirus and its attack upon Italy, the country has been somewhat subdued in the celebration of men giving yellow mimosas to women.
The Colors Of IWD
Internationally the color of IWD is purple. Historically the combination of purple, green, and white symbolized women’s equality which originated from the Women’s Social and Political Union in the UK in 1908. The colors each have significant meaning. Purple stands for justice and dignity. Green stands for hope. White represents purity. However, white is no longer used because “purity” is a controversial concept.
Gloria Steinem’s Thoughts
World-renowned feminist, journalist, and activist Gloria Steinem explained, “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.” She encouraged every woman to make the day special and to do what can be done to make a positive difference for women.