International Women's Day is commemorated at the United Nations, and is designated as a national holiday in many countries including (and not limited to) China, Russia, Macedonia, Ukraine and Vietnam. In addition, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, Australia and Canada all recognize International Women's Day. Special events are held in different regions in these countries.
Beginning at the turn of the 20th century, women began to enter the paid workforce in countries that were becoming industrially developed. They could only work certain jobs in such fields as textiles, manufacturing and domestic services. All of these areas had terrible working conditions and the lowest wages.
In 1903, the Women's Trade Union League was formed in the United States by women trade unionists and professional women who considered themselves liberals. The intent was not only to continue the campaign for women's right to vote, but to organize them in an effort to improve their welfare in the political and economic arenas.
The first Women's Day was initiated on the last Sunday in February of 1908, when women who considered themselves socialists held large demonstrations aimed at calling attention to women's voting rights and welfare. In 1909, a Women's Day rally was held in Manhattan and was attended by 2,000 people. In 1910, this movement spread throughout the country.
Recognition of International Women's Day and the causes it supports continued to grow throughout the 19th century. Its celebration date, in those countries that recognize it as a national holiday, is March 8.
It is important to recognize International Women's Day as a time to reflect on the progress that has been made for women. You don't have to wait for March 8 to remember International Women's Day. Each time you go to the polls or each day that you walk into a clean, safe, work environment, you can thank those who started the movement.
Call for Change
International Women's Day is also a good time to continue to sound the call for change. Encourage your state legislators to recognize International Women's Day. If your state's legislature is in General Session on this day and arrangements can be made to do so, this would be a good day for them to introduce or show their support for bills specific to women's issues.
International Women's Day is also set aside as a celebration of those ordinary women whose courageous and determined acts served to play a historical role in women's rights. You can show your support by attending events in your area that are being held in commemoration of International Women's Day.
The United Nations has supported International Women's Day. In no way has this support been shown more than when the Charter of the United Nations was signed in 1945 in San Francisco. It stated that gender equality was a fundamental human right. It has not stopped there, as the U.N. continues to create and support those things that help to advance the issues pertaining to women on a worldwide level.
Further, Women's History Week, which was always held during the week that included March 8, expanded in 1987 to National Women's History Month. This was a result of lobbying by women's historical and educational organizations.
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