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International Women’s Day Centenary, 1911-2011

Only one in a growing number of proud women. photo: DVIDSHUB/flickr

Today, 8 March 2011, the world celebrates International Women’s Day. This year, nearly 1,500 mass rallies, business conferences, government activities, networking events, craft markets, theater performances, fashion parades, parties, and more around the globe will celebrate 100 years of women’s achievements.

In these 100 years, both women and their International Women’s Day (IWD) have come a long way. The IWD was commemorated for the first time on 19 March 1911 in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland, following its establishment during the Socialist International meeting the prior year. More than one million women and men attended rallies on that first commemoration. In 1975, during International Women’s Year, the United Nations began celebrating 8 March as International Women’s Day. Two years later, in December 1977, the General Assembly adopted a resolution proclaiming a United Nations Day for Women’s Rights and International Peace to be observed on any day of the year by Member States, in accordance with their historical and national traditions.

Today, the IWD is celebrated as a national holiday in Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, China (for women only), Cuba, Georgia, Guinea-Bissau, Eritrea, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Madagascar (for women only), Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Nepal (for women only), Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Vietnam and Zambia. In other countries, the IWD has the equivalent status of Mother’s Day where children give small presents to their mothers and grandmothers. In most countries, however, the IWD is simply the day for women to celebrate themselves and their achievements. Today, a global web of rich and diverse local activity connects women from all around the world ranging from political rallies, business conferences, government activities and networking events through to local women’s craft markets, theatric performances, fashion parades and more.

Most major events taking place at this year’s International Women’s Day Centenary are listed either on the official IWD website, or on the Women for Women International website. These are thus also the best places to find the IWD events taking place closest to where you are. Furthermore, the IWD is commemorated by the United Nations which continues to run themes on political and human rights, and gender equality, to create social awareness of the struggles of women worldwide. Its official theme for today’s International Women’s Day is Equal access to education, training and science and technology: Pathway to decent work for women.

From their mouths to God’s ear.

For a wealth of background information and analysis on this issue, see our Digital Library holdings under the keywords “women” and “ women’s rights”.