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  • Writer's pictureJan Peterson

International Women's Day

Updated: Mar 7

Friday, March 8th is "International Women's Day", but it's roots began over a century ago. Spurred by the suffrage movement in the early 1900's, the holiday originated from the labor movements in North America and Europe. It started as an American holiday in 1908 and was first celebrated on February 28, 1909 in New York City and organized by the Socialist Party of America to commemorate a woman's right to vote.

In August 1910, the International Socialist Women's Conference took place in Demark and over 100 delegates, representing 17 countries, attended. The focus of the conference was to come up with strategies to promote equal rights for women.

The following year, on March 19, 1911, the first "International Women's Day" was celebrated by over a million people in Austria, Denmark, Germany, and Switzerland. Organizers carried banners demanding the right to vote, hold public office and denounce employment sex discrimination. However, what made history for the modern celebration of International Women's Day, was the fire at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in New York City on March 25, 1911, which killed 146 young workers, most of whom were immigrant women.

On March 8, 1917, in Petrograd, which is now St. Petersburg, women textile workers began a demonstration that eventually engulfed the whole city, demanding "Bread and Peace"—an end to World War I, to food shortages, and to czarism. Women gained the right to vote in Russia that year.

For decades the holiday was long associated with far-left movements and governments until its adoption by the feminist movement in the late 1960's. International Women's Day became a mainstream global holiday following its adoption by the United Nations in 1977.

Today "International Women's Day" is a worldwide holiday promoting the achievements of women. It gives focus to issues such as gender equality, reproductive rights, and violence and abuse against women.

"You've come a long way baby"

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