March 8, a day to remind people all over the world that women are still disadvantaged or oppressed in different areas of life today. A day that should draw attention to the fact that even in the 21st century there is no 100% equality between men and women. Since its inception, the internationally acclaimed day has come a long way, and so it’s time to take a closer look at the history of World Women’s Day.
World Women ‘s Day was launched in the early 20th century, when socialists, and especially women’s rights activist Clara Zetkin, advocated an International Women’s Day. This happened at the second Congress of the Socialist International in 1910 in Copenhagen. Initially, the Women’s Day established itself without a fixed date and first took place in 1911. In Germany, Austria, Sweden, the USA and Switzerland, women came together to demonstrate together for the rights of women. Even then, World Women’s Day dealt with the demand for equal rights and equal opportunity in working life and the fight for public voting and voting rights. These rights are “not special rights, but human rights,” as Clara Zetkin in the socialist women’s magazine “The equality” explained regarding their women’s day demand. Except in Finland, no women from a European country were allowed to vote at this time. In 1918, German women gained the right to vote, so that in 1919 they were allowed to participate in the election for the National Assembly of the Weimar Republic for the first time.
The World Women’s Day on 08 March
In 1921, during the Second Communist Women’s Conference, Clara Zetkin enforced March 8 as the common date for the Women’s Day. Why exactly the 08.März was selected for the Women’s Day, is not very clear and there are various assumptions about it. On the one hand, it is possible that this date recalled the strikes of textile workers in New York in 1857 and 1908. In these strikes, the textile workers campaigned for their rights. On the other hand, the historian Kerstin Wolff of the Archives of the German Women’s Movement assumes that Clara Zetkin has called herself to a women’s demonstration on March 08, 1917 in Russia.
The ban on Women’s Day
During the reign of the National Socialists from 1933, the Women’s Day was banned. Instead, Mother’s Day was celebrated and made aware of the woman’s “biological obligation”.
With a new women’s movement in the Federal Republic in the late 1960s, the Women’s Day came back to consciousness and since 1980 has gained in importance throughout Western Europe. And this year, women around the world will be raising awareness of women’s rights with events, celebrations and demonstrations on March 8, which have either been achieved or have not materialised yet.