International Women's Day: A brief history of how the day has evolved

Samhati Bhattacharjya
History of International Women's Day

People attend a rally for International Women's Day in Los Angeles, California, U.S., March 5, 2017. Reuters

International Women's Day is a global celebration in more than 100 countries today, but many people may have only a vague awareness of the holiday. It is marked on March 8 every year to celebrate womanhood, the countless achievements of women across the world, their endless struggles, and fights for equal rights.

Women today occupy important positions in all walks of life; be it aviation, medical, engineering, hospitality, teaching, politics, media, racing or any other profession. They have made their contribution in all arenas, they are challenging the social norms and trying to shatter the elusive glass ceiling. Over the years, women have managed to work and push the rigid social barriers and nurtured a family in the role of a wife, sister, mother or friend.

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A brief timeline of how International Women's Day evolved over the years:

But, this was not the situation in the past. Women were not allowed to enjoy the freedom they do now. Many were not even allowed to study, go to work or even vote. It all started when National Women's Day was celebrated in United States on February 28th, 1909. The Socialist Party of America designated this day in honour of the 1908 garment workers' strike in New York, where women protested against the pathetic working conditions for better pay.

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1910: The Socialist International meeting in Copenhagen established a Women's Day, to honour the movement for women's rights, including the right to vote in political elections. The International Women's Conference, which was held in the same year, also unanimously approved the proposal and had over 100 women from 17 countries.

1913-14: By this time, women's day became a mechanism to protest war. The Russian women observed their first International Women's Day on the last day of February to protest World War I, while European women participated in rallies on March 8 to express solidarity with peace activists.

1975: United Nations began celebrating the day from March 8, 1975.

2011: Barack Obama, the former US President, proclaimed March as Women's History Month to reflect on the extraordinary accomplishments of women and honour their role in shaping a nation's history.

However, the ideal scenario for women is yet to arrive and the path is still not perfect. Women across the globe are still fighting for their rights and struggling to have a comfortable life. Women have to still fight against rapes, molestations and domestic violence. But it's not the time to get bogged down by anything. International Women's Day is an inspiration for all women to keep fighting for their rights. As long as women continue to fight for equality, there is ray of hope.

Theme for International Women's Day 2017

This year, the theme for International Women's Day 2017 is 'Be Bold for Change'. The campaign is looking forward to motivate people to work towards a better working world - a more gender inclusive world.

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