History of women's day

International Women's Day was first celebrated at the turn of the century, around the 1900's when the world was in a period of expansion and turbulence, booming in population growth and radical ideologies.Following is a brief chronology of the most important events:

Great unrest and critical debate was occurring amongst women. Women's oppression and inequality was spurring women to become more vocal and active in campaigning for change. Then in 1908, 15,000 women marched through New York City demanding shorter hours, better pay and voting rights.

In accordance with a declaration by the Socialist Party of America, the first National Woman's Day (NWD) was observed across the United States on 28 February. Women continued to celebrate NWD on the last Sunday of February until 1913.

In 1910 a second International Conference of Working Women was held in Copenhagen. A woman named a 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 proposed that every year in every country there should be a celebration on the same day - a Women's Day - to press for their demands. The conference of over 100 women from 17 countries, representing unions, socialist parties, working women's clubs, established International Women's Day to honour the movement for women's rights.

As a result of the decision taken the previous year, International Women's Day was marked for the first time on 19 March in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland, where more than 1 million women and men attended rallies. In addition to the right to vote and to hold public office, they demanded the right to work, to vocational training and to an end to discrimination on the job.

As part of the peace movement brewing on the eve of World War I, Russian women observed their first International Women's Day on February 1913. The very next month, women around Europe held rallies to protest the war and express solidarity with their sisters. In 1913 following discussions, International Women's Day was transferred to 8 March and this day has remained the global date for International Women's Day ever since.

After 2 million Russian soldiers died in war, women ran a strike for 'bread and peace'. Even with strong opposition from influential political and radical leaders, the women went on anyway. Days later, the Czar was forced to abdicate and women were granted the right to vote. (The date the women's strike commenced was Sunday 23 February on the Julian calendar then in use in Russia. This day on the Gregorian calendar in use elsewhere was 8 March.).

The United Nations Organisation signed the first international agreement to proclaim gender equality as a fundamental human right.

1975 was designated as 'International Women's Year' by the United Nations. Women's organisations and governments around the world have also observed International Women’s Day annually on 8 March by holding large-scale events that honour women's advancement and while diligently reminding of the continued vigilance and action required to ensure that women's equality is gained and maintained in all aspects of life.