International Women's Day: Origin, Meaning and... Z

International Women's Day: Origin, Meaning and Why It Is Celebrated On March 8th?

The celebration dates back to the late XIX and early XX centuries with the first demonstrations to demand equality between men and women.


Every March 8th International Women's Day is celebrated. Millions of people around the world demonstrate on this date to commemorate the struggle that women have been waging for years for equal rights. This day has been officially celebrated since 1975 when it was declared by the United Nations. However, in the United States, it did not officially begin to be celebrated until 1994, despite being the origin of this tribute.

First Manifestations

International Women's Day was not born from a specific fact but has been the fruit of more than a hundred years of feminist movements to demand economic, labor, and social equality between men and women. You have to go back to the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th to remember the first manifestations.

After the Industrial Revolution, there was a historic period of economic transformation and in the way of working. With the labor movement, women also began to raise their voices, but they continued to be exploited without any law to protect them. They also did not have the right to vote or be able to control their own bank accounts, nor did they have the same training as men. In addition, her life expectancy was much lower due to mistreatment and childbirth.

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Concern about this way of life began to grow to the point where on March 8, 1857, women who worked in the textile industry, known as 'garment workers', in New York, organized a strike to demand fairer wages and more humane working conditions. Two years later, the protesters created their first union to fight for their rights and 51 years later, on March 8, 1908, 15,000 women once again filled the streets of New York to demand a raise in pay, fewer hours of work, right to vote and prohibit child labor under the slogan was "Bread and Roses". These episodes were able to consolidate the official date of International Women's Day, which has been celebrated on several different dates throughout history.

In 1910, an international conference was held in Copenhagen attended by more than 100 women from 17 different countries. In it, the German Clara Zetkin suggested the idea of ​​commemorating a women's day globally, and the proposal was approved unanimously, although without specifying a specific date, only the month of March. Thus, on March 19, 1911, the first International Women's Day is celebrated, bringing together more than a million people in Germany, Austria, Denmark, and Switzerland. In addition to the right to vote and hold public office, women's right to work, professional training, and non-discrimination at work was then demanded.

The Tragic Accident That Intensified The Fight

The need to support the struggle for better conditions for women intensified on March 25, 1911, when a tragic fire at the Triangle Shirtwaist factory in New York killed 123 women and 23 men. Apparently, the origin was a badly extinguished cigarette butt thrown in a bucket of fabric scraps that had not been emptied in two months. The victims were unable to escape because those responsible for the factory had closed the stairs and exit doors to prevent theft.

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Movements During The Russian Revolution Of 1917

At the origin of International Women's Day, the UN also highlights the importance of the movements that took place in Russia during the protests against the Great War. In 1917, women took to the streets to protest the war dead and demand better living conditions. These acts caused the fall of the tsar and the provisional Government granted the female vote on February 23, 1917, according to the Julian calendar, or on March 8, according to the Gregorian calendar.

Why is a Purple Ribbon Worn On International Women's Day and What Does It Mean?

The purple ribbon has its origin at the beginning of the 20th century since it was the color chosen by the English suffragettes along with white and green in 1908 to vindicate their actions. The color was inspired by English nobility.

The English women's movement insistently demanded the recognition of women's suffrage with protest actions that were increasing. Finally, the right to vote was recognized in 1917, although only for women over 30 years of age.

It would not be until the 1960s, with the second wave of feminism, when socialist women adopted it again as a symbol to claim equality between women and men. American suffragettes also adopted it and wore it during the 1978 rally for the Equal Rights Amendment.

That is why, since then, the feminist movement has used the purple ribbon as a symbol of support for its struggle. It is also used on November 25, World Day Against Gender Violence.

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A Legendary Theory

There is a theory regarding the origin of the purple ribbon as a symbol of support for women, but it falls into the category of legend. In 1908, a fire at the Cotton mill in New York killed 129 women workers who had gone on strike and were trapped. It says that the fire was caused by the owner himself because the women were protesting to receive a better salary.

The legend maintains that the color of the smoke that came out of the fire was purple since the fabrics with which they were working in the factory were purple, so that color would have been adopted in the bow in homage to the deceased women.

International Women's Day in 2022

This March 8, International Women's Day, the motto of the United Nations is "Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow" and demand climate action by and for women.

The United Nations explains that "there is a fundamental link between gender, social equity, and climate change and recognize that, without gender equality today, a sustainable and equitable future will continue to be out of our reach."

Happy International Women's Day To All Of You!


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