International Women’s Day- Where Did It Start?

March 1, 2018

International Women’s Day is a worldwide event that celebrates women’s achievements – from the political to the social – while calling for gender equality.

It has been observed since the early 1900s and is now recognised each year on March 8. Is is not affiliated with any one group, but brings together governments, women’s organisations, corporations and charities.

But how did it begin – and what are women uniting against this year?

The Beginning

It’s difficult to say exactly when IWD (as it’s known) began. Its roots can be traced to 1908, when 15,000 women marched through New York City demanding voting rights, better pay and shorter working hours.

A year later, the first National Woman’s Day was observed in the US on February 28,  in accordance with a declaration by the Socialist Party of America.

In 1910, a woman called Clara Zetkin – leader of the ‘women’s office’ for the Social Democratic Party in Germany – tabled the idea of an International Women’s Day. She suggested that every country should celebrate women on one day every year to push for their demands.

A conference of more than 100 women from 17 countries agreed to her suggestion and IWD was formed. In 1911, it was celebrated for the first time in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland on March 19.

In 1913, it was decided to transfer IWD to March 8, and it has been celebrated on that day ever since. The day was only recognised by the United Nations in 1975, but ever since it has created a theme each year for the celebration.

The Aim

The original aim – to achieve full gender equality for women the world – has still not been realised. A gender pay gap persists across the globe and women are still not present in equal numbers in business or politics. Figures show that globally, women’s education, health and violence towards women is still worse than that of men.

According to a 2017 report by the World Economic Forum, it could still take another 100 years before the global equality gap between men and women disappears entirely.

In 2017,  women’s rights dominated the news, with a global reckoning on sexual misconduct rippling through industries, in particular there was the outpouring of allegations against Harvey Weinstein and other prominent men in power, the #MeToo movement gave a voice to women on the abuse and harassment they suffer in film, fashion, music, politics and art.

This Years Theme

The theme for IWD 2018 is #PressforProgress, a nod to the growing global movement of advocacy, activism and support surrounding gender parity and sexism. Inspired by the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, the aim of the theme is to encourage people to continue the vocal fight for equality.

What Is SheSociety Doing?

This year marks SheSociety’s second annual International Women’s Day Lunch which we hold to celebrate our community of women and to support the Allison Baden-Clay Foundation. If you would like to be involved in the #PressForProgress- it’s not too late to jump in on the action and buy a ticket here!

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She Society is a site for the women of Australia to share our stories, our experiences, shared learnings and opportunities to connect.