International Women’s Day is celebrated annually on 8 March. It is an opportunity for people to celebrate the achievements of women throughout the world and highlight the continuing problems that many women face.
When was International Women's Day first celebrated?
The first International Women's Day was celebrated back in 1911. It was only marked by a few countries, including Austria, Germany, Switzerland and Denmark.
However, the earliest trace of a similar event predates even 1911. In 1909, the Socialist Party of America declared the first National Women’s Day. Its creation was sparked by a labour movement that demanded that women work fewer hours, receive better pay and be given the right to vote.
In 1975, the United Nations (UN) officially recognised the event. Since then, the event has been celebrated every year on 8 March.
Why is International Women's Day celebrated on 8 March?
There are varying accounts as to why International Women’s Day is celebrated on 8 March.
The first link dates back to 1913 when Russian women celebrated the day on the last Saturday in February. At the time, the Julian calendar was in use and the corresponding date on the Gregorian calendar was 8 March.
Consequently, it was decided that the day should be formally celebrated on 8 March in the Gregorian calendar.
The following year, women across Europe marched in support of universal women’s suffrage and in protested against the ever-rising international tension that would eventually culminate in the First World War.
There is another theory as to why 8 March is celebrated as International Women’s Day. In 1917, Russian women commenced a strike for “bread and peace” in protest over the two million Russian soldiers who perished in WW1. The strike was the spark for the Russian Revolution.
How is International Women's Day celebrated?
In many countries, including Russia, Georgia, Angola, Ukraine and Zambia, the day is an official holiday. In China, the State Council advises that women are given half a day off work, while in Italy, the day is referred to as La Festa della Donna and is celebrated by giving out mimosa blossom.
How is International Women's Day celebrated in workplaces?
Many companies choose to celebrate International Women’s Day in their own way.
Some choose to run seminars and talks, while others like to do activities and raise money for women’s charities.
International Women's Day at PayFit.
Last year at PayFit, we hosted internal lunch and learns relating to women’s health. We also collected feminine hygiene products to be distributed to homeless women.
This year, with employees across all of our five territories (France, Germany, Spain, Italy and the UK) working remotely, we will be running a company-wide webinar on female empowerment in the workplace.