International Women’s Day: History, Meaning, and the Continuing Fight for Equality

By: Daria Draskovic

International Women’s Day falls on March 8th, every year. However, this event is more than just a date. It represents the millions of women around the world fighting for gender equality, and recognizes the amazing contributions women have brought to all fields of society.

This all started in the early 1900s, a time of big expansions and new inventions in the industrial sector that kickstarted the rise of new ideas, such as women’s rights. Women began protesting and fighting for their rights, such as voting and wages, which were in most parts of the world very unequal compared to men. 

Thanks to this, the USA celebrated their first National Women’s Day on February 28, 1909.  In 1910, a conference was held in Copenhagen, made up of over 100 women from 17 different countries, where it was decided that Women’s Day would be a day where women would press for their demands for equal rights. In 1911, the day was celebrated in many countries for the first time. The date was later changed to March 8th. This event was formally recognised by the UN in 1975. Today, with more women in higher positions of power than was allowed 100 years ago, the conversation of women’s rights has changed. However, it is still an important one. International Women’s Day is a holiday in many countries such as Cambodia, Uganda, and Cuba. In countries around the world, this date is honored by the giving of small gifts and flowers to the women in people’s lives. 

Why do we celebrate International Women’s Day? This day is used to commemorate all the women in the world, and their past and present contributions to society, as well as pave the way for younger women to see that they can make a difference in the future. It is also a day to recognize the past and ongoing fight for women’s rights that millions of women around the world became a part of. Representation of powerful and influential women in the media are often missing, so this day helps show young girls that success as a woman is possible. It allows us to go into our past and celebrate all women for who they are and what they bring to society. As the official International Women’s Day organization outlines, this day is used to celebrate women in fields like tech, promote the education of women on their sexual and bodily health, build inclusive workplaces, increase visibility of women’s creative works, forge women’s empowerment, and many other important things.

Canadian women like Margaret Atwood, award winning author, Celine Dion, world-famous singer, Donna Strickland, the first Canadian woman to win a Nobel Prize in sciences, and Kenojuak Ashevak, a pioneer of modern Inuit art, have all contributed so much to Canada and the world. However, this day is not only about the famous women that many know. It is also about the everyday women who contribute to society. Although this day is only one day, women and their contributions need to be celebrated every day. Even though we can never meet and know the experiences of all women in the world, International Women’s Day allows us a glimpse into the fight and lives of women. That is something truly important.

For more information on Women’s Day, go to these websites (sources used in article):

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