International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day is annually held on March 8 to celebrate women’s achievements throughout history and across nations. It is also known as the United Nations (UN) Day for Women’s Rights and International Peace.

The first International Women’s Day occurred on March 19 in 1911. This event, which included rallies and organized meetings, was a huge success in countries such as Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland. The March 19 date was chosen because it commemorated the day that the Prussian king promised to introduce votes for women in 1848. The promise gave hope for equality but it was a promise that he failed to keep. The International Women’s Day date was moved to March 8 in 1913.

In Russia, this holiday emerged as a political celebration to symbolize the fight of women from all over the world for their rights, full equality with men, democracy and peace. As the time passed, the political motives of the holiday moved to the background and March 8th simply became a women’s holiday in Russia and other republics of the former USSR.

Festa della Donna (Women’s Day Festival), is celebrated March 8 all over Italy. On this day, men bring flowers to the women in their lives. Many cafes and restaurants have special meals and there are often small local festivals or concerts. Some museums and sites offer free or reduced admission for women.

In the Ukraine, March 8 is celebrated as the holiday of women, spring and love. It is an official day off for both men and women, which was originally introduced by the Communists. Currently, Ukrainian men congratulate their women by giving them flowers, presents and doing the housework by themselves.

In France, in order to celebrate the holidays, Air France designated an all female crew to fly from Paris to Washington. With two pilots and 22 attendants, Air France says that this will be “the largest exclusively female crew in its history.”

In India, over 100 women marched in the capital, New Delhi, calling on the government to do more to protect them.

In South Africa, hundreds of drummers played with the message that violence against women should stop.

Many amazing things happened for women this year. Women in the U.S. won the right to serve on the front lines in combat, the number of women who die in childbirth declined by 50% and the President inched closer to demanding equal pay for men and women. However, according to a current study, 1 in 3 women in the world will be raped in her lifetime and violence against women is still the norm in many countries.