International Women’s Day, celebrated on March 8, is a global day celebrating the success of women in various fields including social, economic, cultural and political.
From the time when humans started getting civilized, men have taken the responsibilities to work outside the domain of the house. This has made the women ‘angel of the house’ and has forced them to take up the responsibilities of the inner domain.
This in turn has led to a gap between the two genders. International Women’s Day is also the day which calls for us to take action to bridge this gap and to accelerate gender parity.
Since the early 1900s International Women’s Day is being practised all over the world. The early 1900s was the time of great turbulence as the world was experiencing great turbulence and a rapid increase in population.
At that time many women started working in the industries of New York to support their family. But there was an increase in the oppression and violation of rights of women.
It is quite difficult to say precisely when International Women’s Day was first celebrated.
Reports have traced back to 1908, when a group of 15000 women marched through the streets of New York for the demand of the rights to vote, better payment for work and to shorten the working hours.
A year later International Women’s Day was observed in the United States on February 28, 1909 which was organised by the socialist party of America at the suggestion of Theresa Malkiel. At that time it was called National Woman’s Day.
In 1910 the leader of the women’s office for the social democratic party in Germany, Clara Zetkin, came up with the idea that there should be a day which would be observed as International Women’s Day.
She gave the suggestion that every year one day would be celebrated for the women to push for their demands.
Later a conference of 100 women from 17 countries agreed to her proposal and International Women’s Day was formed.
Officially in 1911, some European countries such as Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland celebrated International Women’s Day. More than one million men and women came out on the streets in support of this day.
They made rallies and campaigns for the rights of women to work, to cast vote, to have access to educational system, to have equality and to end discrimination.
International Women’s Day was celebrated on the last Sunday of February until 1914. In 1914, it was first celebrated on March 8, most probably because it was a Sunday. Since then this day is celebrated as International Women’s Day.
International Women’s Day was officially recognised by the United Nations in the International Women’s Year of 1975.
Two years later in 1977, the United Nations General Assembly invited its member states to proclaim March 8 as the UN Day for women’s rights and world peace.
Since the year of 1996, the United Nations have announced adoption of annual themes regarding the observation of International Women’s Day.
The first theme was “Celebrating the past, Planning for the Future”. While the latest theme of 2017 was “Women in the Changing World of Work: Planet 50-50 by 2030”.
2011 saw the centenary year of International Women’s Day, the first event being held exactly 100 years ago in 1911.
The theme of 2011 was “Equal Access to Education, Training, and Science and Technology: Pathway to Decent Work for Women”.
This day is celebrated as an official holiday in many countries such as Afghanistan, Cuba, Nepal, Russia, Vietnam, etc.
It has become a custom for men to gift the women of their lives− such as friends, mothers, wives, girlfriends, daughters, etc− with small gifts and flowers.
In countries such as Bulgaria and Romania, it is observed as equivalent to Mother’s Day, where children give their mothers and grandmothers small gifts.
Colours that signify International Women’s Day
Internationally, purple is the colour which symbolises women.
According to history, the combination of purple, green and white is used to symbolise the equality of women.
This concept originated from the Women’s Social and Political Union in the UK in 1908.
The colour purple stands for justice and dignity. The colour green is the symbol for hope. While the colour white represents purity. But now white is no longer used as the concept of ‘purity’ is a controversial topic.
A new colour yellow is being introduced which symbolises a ‘new dawn’. It is also commonly used to signify a second wave of feminism.
Therefore, while the combination of purple with green stands for traditional feminism, the combination of purple with yellow represents progressive contemporary feminism.