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03 August 2019

5 Min Read

The history of International Women's Day

International Women's Day, celebrated in many countries, is a day when women are recognised for their achievements. From its humble beginnings from the activities of labour movements at the turn of the 20th century, International Women's Day has assumed a new global perspective for women in developed and developing countries alike.

A walk in history

The Charter of the United Nations, which was signed in 1945 was the first international agreement to uphold the principle of gender equality. To this day, the empowerment of women continues to be a central feature of the UN's efforts to address social, economic, and political challenges across the globe.

1909: The first National Women's Day was observed in the United States on 28 February. The day was in honour of the 1908 garment workers' strike in New York – where women protested against unethical working conditions.

1910: The Socialist International meeting held in Copenhagen brought together over 100 women from 17 countries, which included the first three women elected to the Finnish Parliament.

1911: As a result of the Copenhagen initiative, International Women's Day was marked for the first time (19 March) in Austria, Denmark, Germany, and Switzerland where more than 1 million women and men attended rallies. At these rallies, women demanded the right to vote, to hold office, and for the right of women to work and end discrimination on the job.

1975: During International Women's Year, the United Nations began celebrating International Women's Day on 8 March 2019.

2014: The 58th session of the Commission on the status of Women (CSW58) - an annual gathering of States to address critical issues related to gender equality and women's rights – focused on challenges and achievements in the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals for women and girls.

2015: In 2015, countries adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Goal 5 is "Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.

2019: Today women all over the world commemorate International Women's Day, and use it as a day to bring to the fore the progress and continued hurdles that exist towards gender equality.

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