ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — International Women’s Day is honored on March 8 every year. The global holiday celebrates the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women, as well as marks a call to action for accelerating women’s equality.
This year’s International Women’s Day theme is #EmbraceEquity. The aim of the campaign is to get the world talking about why equal opportunities aren’t enough. “People start from different places, so true inclusion and belonging require equitable action,” said the International Women’s Day website.
Here is the history of International Women’s Day. All information is from the International Women’s Day website.
In 1908, women’s oppression and inequality prompted women to become more vocal and active in looking for change. That year, 15,000 women marched through New York City to demand shorter hours, better pay and voting rights.
The first National Woman’s Day was observed in the United States on February 28, 1909. It was honored on the last Sunday of February until 1913.
In 1910, an International Conference of Working Women was held in Copenhagen. A woman named Clara Zetkin, Leader of the Women’s Office for the Social Democratic Party in Germany, suggested “a Women’s Day” to be celebrated in every country on the same day. The idea was unanimously approved and International Women’s Day was born.
The first International Women’s Day was held in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland on March 19 in 1911. More than 1 million women and men marched in rallies that day campaigning for women’s rights to work, vote, be trained, to hold public office and end discrimination.
Less than a week later on March 25, the Triangle Fire in New York City killed more than 140 working women, most of them Italian and Jewish immigrants. The event drew attention to working conditions and labor legislation in the United States and became a focus of future International Women’s Day events.
On the eve of World War I in 1913, Russian women observed their first International Women’s Day on February 23. International Women’s Day was soon after agreed to be marked annually on March 8. In 1914, women across Europe held rallies to campaign against the war and for women’s solidarity.
In 1975, International Women’s Day was marked for the first time by the United Nations. The UN announced the first annual theme “Celebrating the Past, Planning for the Future” in 1996. Each year has had a different theme since. In 2001, the International Women’s Day website was launched to re-energize the day and promote participation.
2011 marked the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day. In the United States, former President Barack Obama proclaimed March 2011 to be “Women’s History Month,” as many presidents before and after him have done.