International Women’s Day is a global celebration of female strength and achievement which also provides the perfect moment to rally for equal rights across the world.
And, if you’re in any doubt as to whether we still need such an occasion, it might be worth contemplating a few choice facts.
We live on a planet in which women perform 66 per cent of the World’s work and produce 50 per cent of its food but earn ten per cent of overall income and own one per cent of property.
Women hold only 19 per cent of the World’s parliamentary seats and just 16 of the World’s 188 directly-elected leaders are female.
Violence against women causes more deaths and disabilities among the global female population aged 15 to 44 than cancer, malaria, road traffic accidents and war.
So let’s take today, March 8, International Women’s Day, to celebrate us, daughters, mothers, grandmothers, girlfriends…
When women on all continents, often divided by national boundaries and by ethnic, linguistic, cultural, economic and political differences, come together to celebrate their Day, they can look back to a tradition that represents at least nine decades of struggle for equality, justice, peace and development.
Let’s fight against discrimination and violence, help and support campaigns to promote and protect the equal rights of women.
For more information, campaigns and charities go to:
International Women’s Day website
Women’s rights are human rights
Defending Women-Defending Rights
ActionAid’s work on women’s rights
End Violence against Women
Women for Women International
Wikipedia List of women’s organisations
As well you can look around your community to help and promote local organisations and charities.
International Women’s Day around the world:
The day is an official holiday in Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, China (for women only), Cuba, Georgia, Guinea-Bissau, Eritrea, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Macedonia (for women only), Madagascar (for women only), Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Nepal (for women only), Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, and Zambia.
In some countries, such as Cameroon, Croatia, Romania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Bulgaria the day is not a public holiday, but is widely observed nonetheless. On this day it is customary for men to give the women in their lives – mothers, wives, girlfriends, daughters, colleagues, etc. – flowers and small gifts. In some countries (such as Bulgaria and Romania) it is also observed as an equivalent of Mother’s Day, where children also give small presents to their mothers and grandmothers.
The 1932 Soviet poster dedicated to the 8th of March holiday. The text reads: “8th of March is the day of rebellion of the working women against kitchen slavery” and “Down with the oppression and narrow-mindedness of household work!”. Originally in the USSR the holiday had a clear political character, emphasizing the role of the Soviet state in the liberation of women from their second-class-citizen status.
However, with time the meaning of the holiday evolved to an apolitical celebration of women. Most late Soviet 8th of March postcards carried no political meaning.
In Armenia, after the collapse of the Soviet Union celebrations of IWD were abandoned. Instead, April 7 was introduced as state holiday of ‘Beauty and Motherhood’. The new holiday immediately became popular among Armenians, as it commemorates one of the main holidays of the Armenian Church, the Annunciation. However, people still kept celebrating IWD on March 8 as well. Public discussion held on the topic of two ‘Women’s Days’ in Armenia resulted in the recognition of the so called ‘Women’s Month’ which is the period between March 8 and April 7.
In Italy, to celebrate the day, men give yellow mimosas to women. Yellow mimosas and chocolate are also one of the most common March 8 presents in Russia and Albania.
In many countries, such as in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Croatia, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia and Slovenia, the custom of giving women flowers still prevails. Women also sometimes get gifts from their employers. Schoolchildren often bring gifts for their teachers, too.
In countries like Portugal groups of women usually celebrate on the night of 8 March in “women-only” dinners and parties.
In Pakistan working women in formal and informal sectors celebrate International Women’s Day every year to commemorate their ongoing struggle for due rights, despite facing many cultural and religious restrictions. Some women working for change in society use IWM to help the movement for women’s rights. In Poland, for instance, every IWD includes large feminist demonstrations in major cities.