International Women's Day: Learn the History and How to Celebrate

Every year on March 8th, International Women’s Day is celebrated around the world.

This day is a chance to reflect on the progress women have made toward gender equality, representation, and ending discrimination.

It’s also a time for empowering women and celebrating those who have had the courage, including ordinary women and men, to fight for all of the above.

The History of Women’s Day

Women’s Day dates back to the early 20th century when the suffragettes were working diligently toward nabbing the vote for women.

The first celebration happened in the U.S. on February 28, 1909.

Originally, the day was created by the Socialist Party of America and was meant to honor the women who protested about working conditions during the New York garment workers’ strike.

It wasn’t until a year later that the holiday was officially established on an international level. It happened during a Socialist International meeting in Copenhagen. This was a conference which women from over a dozen countries attended.

The first international celebration happened on March 19, 1911, when men and women in countries like Switzerland, Austria, and Germany held rallies and protests.

Meanwhile, around the world, the fight for women’s rights kept going with International Women’s Day held on or around the 8th of March each year.

It wasn’t until 1975, which was proclaimed International Women’s Year, that the United Nations officially recognized International Women’s Day (IWD). Ever since then, it has been celebrated on March 8th annually.

How to Celebrate Every Woman on International Women’s Day

There are many ways to celebrate and participate in IWD all over the world.

The official IWD website lists various conferences, gatherings, exhibitions, concerts, online meet-ups, festivals, and more for the occasion.

Featured Events for IWD 2018

Here is just a sample of events happening around the world.

  • #PressforProgress in New Westminster, Canada

The Justice Institute of British Columbia in Canada will hold a conference/symposium in honor of IWD. There will be panel discussions with successful women who work in social justice and public safety, a presentation from the senator of British Columbia, Mobina Jaffer, and mini-presentations about gender parity.

  • IWD High Tea in Melbourne, Australia

This High Tea event and forum will feature successful businesswomen sharing entrepreneurial secrets and tips to promote diversity in all types of organizations.

This Detroit event, in its 6th year, focuses on supporting and celebrating women-owned businesses. It will feature women business owners as vendors, and attendees can eat sushi and sip on tea while networking.

In this worldwide event, street artists from countries like Australia, Spain, Argentina, the U.S., Indonesia, and New Zealand will create art celebrating women in their cities. The event will also be happening online as women share their creations on Facebook.

National Women’s History Month

Did you know the entire month of March is also National Women’s History Month in the U.S.?

Congress officially declared this special month in 1987. During those 31 days, events take place that honor women’s unique role in shaping history, especially the recent fight for equality.

The National Women’s History Project announced the theme for this year’s Women’s History Month: “Nevertheless She Persisted: Honoring Women Who Fight All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.”

Events for Women’s History Month in March

Women’s History Month is jam-packed with events, including International Women’s Day.

  • In New York City alone, there will be an all-women jazz festival, screenings of movies that feature female empowerment, the women’s march (“A Day Without a Woman”), concerts, discussions, and more.
  • There will also be events hosted by the Library of Congress, the National Archives, the National Park Service, the Smithsonian Institution, and the National Gallery of Art, all in Washington, D.C.
  • You can also visit the National Women’s History Museum online to view and read women’s stories throughout history.
  • Plan on participating in an event like “Phenomenal Women: Reclaiming Our Time” on March 17th in Alexandria, VA. You’ll hear from women speakers, see reenactments of the suffrage movement and women leaders in history, and view exhibits from women artists and authors.

Celebrate Women and Promote Diversity This March

March brings with it fantastic opportunities to engage in public discourse, activism, and awareness about gender inequality, discrimination, and other social issues that affect women all over the world.

Though women aren’t quite there yet, there’s also much to celebrate, including the hard-won battles that scores of women fought so today’s generation could enjoy a better future.

March is the perfect time to remember where we stand as women in society, where we’re going, and how far we still need to go to get there.

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