24 February 2021 (updated)

International Women's Day - #ChoosetoChallenge On March 8

On March 8, 2021 people all around the world celebrate International Women's Day. Here's what you need to know about the history of this day and why it's still important decades later. Celebrate Women's Day 2021 with us!

Women's Day Celebrations Originate in the USA

The very first Woman's Day took place in the United States on February 28, 1909. The Socialist Party of America designated this day to commemorate a worker's strike. One year earlier on this day, 15,000 female garment workers marched through New York City. They protested against working conditions and demanded political rights like the right to vote.

History of International Women's Day

In 1910, however, a meeting of The Socialist International took place in Copenhagen, Denmark. 100 women from 17 different countries attended this conference. These ladies wanted a Woman's Day to honor the international movement for women's rights. Another goal was to support each other in gaining women's suffrage.

The next milestone was the following year when over a million people in Denmark, Austria, Germany, and Switzerland celebrated the first International Women's Day (IWD) on March 19, 1911. They attended rallies with a clear focus on work as they demanded vocational training or equality on the job for women.

In the following years, International Women's Day also became a form of protesting in the context of World War I. There was still no standardized date, but March 8 began to emerge in most countries. It was not until 1921, that this day was set in stone to commemorate the Women's Day demonstrations in 1917 St. Petersburg, Russia. In many countries, people celebrated the IWD from then on, but only a few countries made it a national holiday.

March 8 and the United Nations

Flash forward to 1975: This year was declared the International Women's Year. Hence, there were actions and celebrations all over the world. Women in Western countries, Latin America, Africa, and Asia, demonstrated their solidarity and support for each other. The United Nations (UN) used this as an opportunity to declare March 8 as UN Day for Women's Rights and World Peace.

Gender Equality and IWD

Fortunately, women are guaranteed full suffrage in most nations these days. But there are still regions in this world, where minority groups are refused the right to vote or are discriminated against. Hence, the focus of International Women's Day has changed a little.

There are still topics where women are at a disadvantage. Some current demands on IWD rallies are the abolition of the pay gap or the end of violence against girls and women. Furthermore, Women's Day marchers nowadays stand up for equality including everyone. They demand equal rights independently from background, gender, skin color, age, religion, or other features.

2021 Campaign for International Woman's Day

However, the International Woman's Day 2021 slogan #ChoosetoChallenge is not only a hot topic on March 8.  On the contrary, this campaign runs all year long. There are plenty of ways to take action. You don't need to go on the streets and take part in a rally if that's not your cup of tea. You can also be part of the IWD 2021 campaign and show support through social media.

Of course, there are plenty of other ways to support girls and women all over the globe and all year round. Non-profit organizations like Women for Women International (WfWI) also aim for equal chances. This humanitarian organization provides support for female survivors of war. WfWI helps those women not only with emotional counseling but also with financial aid. Another important aspect is the life skills training where most of them learn how to write and read or do basic math for the first time. Other learning fields include health and civic education. Be sure to do your own research to find out which organizations are worth supporting through donations or volunteering.

Talk to Your Kids About Women's Rights

Teaching your children the significance of gender equality is important as well. Still looking for inspiration? There are plenty of good children's books for all ages on that topic. With teenagers and adolescents, a talk about suffrage, the general importance of voting, and the history of the women's rights movement is also a good idea. The 2015 film Suffragette starring Helena Bonham Carter and Meryl Streep underlines that talk in an empathetic, yet impressive way, too.

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