Marked annually on 8th March, International Women’s Day (IWD) is one of the most important days of the year to:
- celebrate women’s achievements in history
- campaign for gender equality
- raise awareness about equality around the world
- help fundraise for female-focused charities
International Women’s Day was founded in 1910 by German revolutionary Clara Zetkin as a way to honour women. In 1911 it was celebrated by over a million people across Europe, with young girls and women marching for the right to vote. In the years and decades that followed that march, women were given suffrage with men both in Europe and throughout the world as more countries recognised equal opportunities for women both in the workplace and at home.
In 1917 in Petrograd, Russia, women workers formed a protest for “bread and peace” in response to the severe food shortages and the deaths of over 2 million Russian soldiers throughout the course of World War I. Although opposed by political leaders, the women continued to strike until Czar Nicholas II was forced to abdicate and the ad interim “Workers’ Soviet” government granted women the right to vote. The date the women’s strike commenced was Sunday, 23rd February on the Julian calendar then in use in Russia. This day on the Gregorian calendar used in other parts of Europe was 8th March.
In 1975 the United Nations began celebrating IWD and the day was internationally recognised. In 1977, the United Nations General Assembly invited member states to declare 8th March as the UN Day for women’s rights and international peace.
The 2021 UN theme for International Women’s Day is “Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world”, highlighting the impact that girls and women worldwide have had as essential workers in hospitals, care homes, as caregivers, innovators and as community leaders and organisers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
As the world has continued to turn these past 101 years, generations have witnessed a significant change to both female equality and liberation. Many from a younger generation may feel that every battle worth fighting has already been won for women, while many who fought for freedom in the 1970’s know only too well that equality, like that of democracy, is a fragile notion that must be upheld as a beacon of justice, even in times when we feel the world as we know it today as always been this way.
With more women in positions to make changes around the world, greater equality in legislation and an increase of critical role models in every aspect of life, one could think that women have gained true equality. The unfortunate fact is that women are regularly still not paid equally to that of their male counterparts, women still are not present in equal numbers in neither corporations nor in much needed political discourse, and across the world, many women, both in first and third world countries alike have diminished in the workforce due to a lack of childcare resources amidst the pandemic. Women’s health and education continue to be considered less important than for men across all nations, with family traditions favouring boys over girls, and domestic crime being rampant across the board as men take out fear and frustration on women hidden in unseen households.
However, great improvements have also been made. We have female pilots, scientists, astronauts and prime ministers. Girls can go to university, women can work and have a family, women can now choose who they can be, rather than see from afar what they could not have. And each year the world inspires women a little more by celebrating their achievements.
Although in the twenty-first century, this day has been transformed into an increasingly corporate holiday, used to promote feminine positive messages rather than address social reform in less equal parts of the world, it is important to remember the history of International Women’s day and the brave women that laid the groundwork for female rights and equalities around the world.
At All The Best Lottos we invite you this International Women’s day to celebrate the women in your life, whether it be family, friends or through acts of charity to others. Purple, green and white are the colours of International Women’s Day. Purple signifies justice and dignity. Green symbolizes hope. White represents purity. The colours originated from the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) in the UK in 1908.