New Delhi: International Women’s Day is a time when women are recognized for their achievements without regard to divisions, whether national, ethnic, linguistic, cultural, economic or political.

It is an occasion for looking back on past struggles and accomplishments, and more importantly, for looking ahead to the untapped potential and opportunities that await future generations of women.

This year’s theme for International Women’s Day is to put an end to violence against women: “A promise is a promise: Time for action to end violence against women” seeks to strengthen international community’s commitment to put an end to violence against women.

But do you know why March 8 is dedicated a day exclusively to the celebrations world’s women and how the International Women’s Day originated.

Here are the unknown facts

Why Women’s Day?

The United Nations General Assembly, composed of delegates from every Member State, celebrates International Women's Day to recognize that peace and social progress require the active participation and equality of women, and to acknowledge the contribution of women to international peace and security.

For the women of the world, the Day is an occasion to review how far they have come in their struggle for equality, peace and development.

International Women’s Day: How did it happen?

International Women's Day first emerged from the activities of labour movements at the turn of the twentieth century in North America and across Europe.

# The first National Woman's Day was observed in the United States on 28 February, 1909. The Socialist Party of America designated this day in honour of the 1908 garment workers' strike in New York, where women protested against working conditions.

# The Socialist International, meeting in Copenhagen, in 1910 established a Women's Day, international in character, to honour the movement for women's rights and to build support for achieving universal suffrage for women. The proposal was greeted with unanimous approval by the conference of over 100 women from 17 countries, which included the first three women elected to the Finnish Parliament. No fixed date was selected for the observance.

# As a result of the Copenhagen initiative, in 1911, International Women's Day was marked for the first time (19 March) in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland, where more than one million women and men attended rallies. In addition to the right to vote and to hold public office, they demanded women's rights to work, to vocational training and to an end to discrimination on the job.

# In 1913-1914,  International Women's Day also became a mechanism for protesting World War I. As part of the peace movement, Russian women observed their first International Women's Day on the last Sunday in February. Elsewhere in Europe, on or around 8 March of the following year, women held rallies either to protest the war or to express solidarity with other activists.

#  Against the backdrop of the war, women in Russia again chose to protest and strike for "Bread and Peace" on the last Sunday in February (which fell on 8 March on the Gregorian calendar) in 1917. Four days later, the Czar abdicated and the provisional Government granted women the right to vote.

# The Charter of the United Nations, signed in 1945, was the first international agreement to affirm the principle of equality between women and men.

# In 1975, during International Women's Year, the United Nations began celebrating International Women's Day on 8 March.

# Two years later, in December 1977, the General Assembly adopted a resolution proclaiming a United Nations Day for Women's Rights and International Peace.

# In 1975 the UN drew global attention to women's concerns by calling for an International Women's year and convening the first conference on women in Mexico City. Another convention was held in Copenhagen, Denmark in 1980.

# In 1985, the UN convened a third conference on women in Nairobi, Kenya, to look at what had been achieved at the end of the decade.


# In 1995, Beijing hosted the Fourth World Conference on Women. Representatives from 189 different countries agreed that inequalities between women and men has serious consequences for the well-being of all people.

# Five years later, in a 23rd special session of the United Nations General Assembly, "Women 2000: Gender Equality, Development and Peace for the 21st Century" reviewed the progress the world has made towards achieving the goals set out by the Beijing conference.

Did you know?

Women’s Day was originally called International Working Women’s Day.

International Women’s Day (8 March) was originally a socialist holiday established in 1911 by the Socialist International.

The United States even designates the whole month of March as 'Women's History Month'.

Many countries in the world have declared International Women’s Day as an official holiday for women only and it is customary for men to gift women.

The International Women’s Day logo is in purple and white and features the symbol of Venus, which is also the symbol of being female.

International Women's Day is not celebrated in South Africa. Since 1994, Women's Day is celebrated with a public holiday on the 9th of August.

(Source: United Nations)

(JPN/Agencies)

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