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Empowerment and equality: Women's Day highlights

Empowerment and equality: Women's Day highlights

International Women's Day is commemorated every March 8. Its first antecedent dates back to 1910, when at the Second International Conference of Socialist Women, held in Copenhagen, Denmark, it was decided to proclaim International Working Women's Day. It is considered a date of empowerment and equality. Behind this initiative were historic women's rights advocates such as Clara Zetkin and Rosa Luxemburg. They didn’t set a specific date, but they did set the month: March. While the celebration was progressively extended to more countries, the date changed from one day to another according to specific events in each nation. Increasingly, women were seen performing different tasks and taking care of all kinds of businesses. How this date came to be is a topic in itself. Along the way different events happened that led women as a whole to raise their claim for empowerment and gender equality.

In the United States


On March 8, 1857, thousands of women textile workers decided to take to the streets of New York under the slogan “Bread and Roses” to protest miserable working conditions and demand a cut in hours and an end to child labor. It was one of the first demonstrations to fight for their rights. Different movements, events and mobilizations took place after that episode, which served as a reference to establish an international women's day. Years later, on February 28, 1909, an event was held in New York and Chicago that they named Woman's Day, organized by prominent socialist women such as Corinne Brown and Gertrude Breslau-Hunt. Two years after that event and one after the International Conference of Socialist Women held in Copenhagen, a fire broke out in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in New York. On March 25, 1911, 146 women died and 71 others were injured. The severity of the disaster led to changes in U.S. labor legislation. In 1975, the UN celebrated International Women's Year. Two years later, in December 1977, the UN Assembly invited all states to proclaim, in accordance with their historical traditions and national customs, one day of the year as “United Nations Day for Women's Rights and International Peace”. In the words of UN Women: “On this day, women on all continents, often separated by national borders and ethnic, linguistic, cultural, economic and political differences, can look back on a tradition of no less than ninety years of struggle for equality, justice, peace and development”. The meaning of the date, established by the United Nations in 1975, has to do with a commemoration and struggle, not a celebration.

In Russia


After the October Revolution, on October 25, 1917, Bolshevik leader Alexandra Kollontai (who from her appointment as People's Commissar for Public Assistance won the vote for women and made divorce and abortion legal) succeeded in making March 8 an official holiday in the Soviet Union, albeit a working one.

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