International Women´s Day, Tracing the Origins

by | Mar 8, 2024

This blog post is about the chronological development of International Women´s Day (IWD), with presenting the hope of building a future based on its core values. It is representing a personal story as well as historical facts, considering this year´s IWD theme: inclusivity and that every woman has a part in this story.

A Brief History – Why is it the 8th of March?

In 1848, the women´s rights convention initiated in America, which eventually led to the socialist strike against the poor working conditions in New York, in 1909. International Socialist Women’s Conference followed them the next year, this time in Denmark. Russian women, concurrent to the protests against World War I, observed their first International Women´s Day – on the last Sunday of February, according to Julian calendar, which was adopted in Russia during the event or the 8th of March according to Gregorian calendar. At the same time in Europe, women started having celebrations of IWD. Again, on the 8th of March of 1913, Russian women took part in the “Bread and Peace” protests, which resulted in the Czar and the Government granting the right to vote to women.

The United Nations started celebrating International Women´s Day in 1975. However, it has a longer history than that. Women from the US and Russia are referenced as the root group starting this movement; however, it was already spread worldwide soon after its initiation. Women all around the world started it, and now it is celebrated internationally, with the accumulation of these events.

My Day

The day was called “Working Women´s Day” for a while in Türkiye, and still by some, especially socialist women and men. Another word to emphasize the women who participated in the formal workforce, maybe as a protestation against the practice of trying to keep them away. Away from any public place, and from the ability of reaching the economic liberty, considering the benefits it may bring upon, such as the liberty to have life on their own for women, a happy and safe life. Of course, this term was replaced because there were women who were not in the workforce, yet working every second of their lives at home, for taking care of the house, the children, the adults. Their work was always shadow, behind the events, behind the routine. Because of this exclusion, now it is commonly back to International Women´s Day.

Today and Tomorrow

Today, the 8th of March is a very good day to buy roses for a woman, or even a blender. Clothing brands are making women empowerment themed advertisements too. Despite the commercialization of this, it brought also the popularization of IWD and feminism. Thanks to this popularization, we are where we are today. I appreciate the participation of any related party in the process of teaching girls and women that gender equality should be the normal setting, not patriarchy. Equality is one of the most important concepts that anyone should learn really, so that they can have a fair approach to themselves or anyone who is left weak under political or economic hierarchical structure.

Today, we are celebrating IWD with this perspective, including instead of gaining power from each other´s weakness. Women from so many different places took part in the creation of a world which is possible to imagine we can have the applicability of this strong and important term, equality. With contributions of people, women or other, today we can have the hope of achieving a world in which gender-based violence, femicides, gendered pay gap, abortion bans, underrepresentation in almost all decision mechanisms, forced marriages, gendered inaccessibility to education, and many more do not exist. The multitude of the concepts and actions the world should be concerned about should only motivate people to fight back stronger for gender equality. IWD having started with activism of women and became an official holiday in 27 countries, it is only natural to imagine inclusivity and gender equality will be achieved through the efforts of activism, as long as we work together.