International Women's Day Celebrated For the First Time - [March 8, 1975] This Day in History

UN celebrates International Women’s Day for the first time. Know the relevant facts about International Women’s Day for the IAS Exam preparation.
See previous ‘This Day in History’ in the linked article.

Background of International Women’s Day

Women’s Day in Russia, 1917

International Women’s Day was observed by the United Nations for the first time on 8 March 1975. 1975 was also declared the International Women’s Year.

  • The very first day for women in the modern era was celebrated in the United States of America on February 28, 1909 when the Socialist Party of America observed a National Woman’s Day.
  • This day was marked in honour of a garment workers’ strike that had taken place in New York in 1908.
  • In 1910, at the Socialist International Meeting held in Copenhagen, the participants decided to observe a day of the year as ‘Women’s Day’ to support the movement for women’s rights and universal suffrage. More than 100 women from 17 countries took part in it along with the first 3 women elected to the parliament of Finland.
  • The next year, as an outcome of the meeting in 1910, the first ‘International Women’s Day’ was celebrated on 19 March in Denmark, Germany, Switzerland and Austria. Men and women attended rallies and demanded for women the right to vote and hold public office, the right to work, the right to receive vocational training and to stop discrimination at work.
  • During the First World War years, women’s day was marked in Russia by women on the last Sunday in the month of February. This was also seen as a movement for peace.
  • The first international women’s day to be held on March 8 was in the year 1914. This was held in many countries in Europe. In London, women marched from Bow to Trafalgar Square where they demanded women’s suffrage. Suffragist Sylvia Pankhurst was arrested.
  • Again in Russia in 1917, women held a protest known as the ‘Bread and Peace’ campaign on the last Sunday in February. This demonstration started by women textile workers actually was the beginning of the Russian Revolution. This day fell on the 8th of March in the Gregorian calendar. A few days later, the Russian Czar abdicated and the new provisional government gave women the right to vote.
  • For many years, women’s day was being celebrated chiefly by communist countries. Then in 1975, the United Nations declared the year as the ‘International Women’s Year’.
  • In Mexico City, the UN World Conference on Women was held for the first time in June-July 1975. As a result, the World Plan of Action was adopted as well as a declaration which led to the setting up of monitoring mechanisms. The United Nations Development Fund for Women was also established.
  • Ever since then, every year, March 8 is observed as the International Women’s Day globally.
  • The theme for the 2018 women’s day is “Time is Now: Rural and urban activists transforming women’s lives”.
Also on this day

1864: Birth of Hari Narayan Apte, famous Marathi novelist.


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