Tuesday 8 March 2011

International Women's Day centenary

Today marks 100 years of International Women's Day, celebrated every 8 March. It is now recognised by the United Nations and is an official holiday in many countries. Although its beginnings were smaller, even that very first IWD in 1911 saw over a million people attending rallies.

In 1910, a Socialist International Conference of Working Women was held in Copenhagen and attended by women from 17 countries. When Clara Zetkin proposed an International Women's Day, there was unanimous approval and the first day was marked the following year on 19 March. The date was later fixed as 8 March, the date the 1917 Russian women's strike began; it ended when the Czar abdicated and women were granted the right to vote.

On that first IWD, women in Britain were unable to vote for or become MPs, to sit on juries or to enter many professions. Women were not awarded degrees by universities including Oxford and Cambridge. They could be paid less than men for the same work, and forced to leave their jobs on marriage. A great deal may have changed over the subsequent century, but IWD continues to highlight the need for further progress here and across the world.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It is also recognised each year by Soroptomist International.