International Women’s Day is celebrated every year on March 8 to recognise the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The event celebrates women’s achievements and raises awareness about women’s equality and lobbies for accelerated gender parity.
Observed for the first time in 1911, International Women’s Day aims to highlight and recognise the achievements of women in different spheres while also bringing attention to important issues including gender discrimination that exist even today.
History of International women’s Day
IWD has been celebrated for over a century now, but many people think of it purely as a feminist cause. Its roots, however, are found in the labour movement, wherein it was first organised in 1911 by the early 20th century Marxist from Germany Clara Zetkin.
Zetkin was born in 1857 in Wiederau, where she trained as a teacher, and was associated with the Social Democratic Party (SPD) — one of the two major political parties in Germany. She participated in both labour movement and women’s movement.
It is said that in the 1880s, anti-socialist laws were enforced by German leader Otto von Bismarck, and Zetkin went into a ‘self-imposed exile’ in Switzerland and France. She wrote and distributed literature that was forbidden back then, and also met with leading socialists. Zetkin also played a significant role in the formation of the Socialist International.
When she returned to Germany, she became the editor of Die Gleichheit (‘Equality’) — SPD’s newspaper for women — from 1892 to 1917. In the SPD, Zetkin was closely associated with the far-left thinker and revolutionary Rosa Luxemburg. In 1910 — three years after she became a co-founder of the International Socialist Women’s Congress — Zetkin proposed at a conference that Women’s Day be celebrated in every country on February 28.
A conference comprising 100 women from 17 countries, with unions, socialist parties, working women’s clubs and female legislators unanimously approving the suggestion, and Women’s Day was observed for the first time in the year 1911.
But, in 1913, the date was changed to March 8, and it continues to be celebrated every year.
International Women’s Day 2022 Theme
The theme of 2022 International Women’s Day is “gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow”.
“Advancing gender equality in the context of the climate crisis and disaster risk reduction is one of the greatest global challenges of the 21st century. Women are increasingly being recognized as more vulnerable to climate change impacts than men, as they constitute the majority of the world’s poor and are more dependent on the natural resources which climate change threatens the most. At the same time, women and girls are effective and powerful leaders and change-makers for climate adaptation and mitigation…This International Women’s Day, let’s claim “Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow”,” reads a statement by the United Nations.
Additionally, internationalwomensday.com states that IWD 2022 campaign theme is ‘#BreakTheBias’. It intends to promote a “gender equal world”, which is “free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination”. “A world that is diverse, equitable, and inclusive”, and where “difference is valued and celebrated”.
International Women’s Day Significance
International Women’s Day is celebrated to recognise the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women.
Organisations like colleges and institutions across the world celebrate International Women’s Day by holding public speeches, rallies, exhibitions, workshops and seminars on themes and concepts, debates, quiz competitions and lectures.