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International Women’s Day: A Brief History
International Women's Day

International Women’s Day is a day to to recognize the struggle for women’s rights and celebrate the political, social, economic and cultural achievements of woman throughout history. It is celebrated annually on March 8. Gloria Steinem, a world-famous feminist, journalist and activist clarifies that “The story of women’s struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organisation but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights.”

The origins of this day trace back to 1909. Following a Women’s Day on February 28, 1909 in New York organised by The Socialist Party of America, a 1910 International Socialist Woman’s Conference proposed to celebrate a Women’s Day every year. March 8 become a national holiday in the Soviet Union in 1918 after women demanded and gained the right to vote in public elections via a public demonstration. Until its adoption in 1975 by The United Nations, the day was mainly celebrated by the socialist movement and communist countries, such as the Soviet Union, German Democratic Republic, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia etc.

Women's March 1917 Russia
>Women’s Protest in Russia, 1917

Nowadays, International Women’s Day is a public holiday in some countries, including Belarus, Cuba, Kazakhstan, Russia, Nepal and Vietnam. In some other countries, for example, Romania, Latvia and Chile, it is not a public holiday but also widely celebrated. Both men and women give flowers and gifts like chocolate to show their appreciation to all the important, inspirational, strong and beautiful women in their lives. In the evening, couples go on dinner dates, or some people choose to eat a home-made meal at home with family. The most common flowers given to woman are tulips, roses, mimosas and chrysanthemums.

On International Women’s Day, giving flowers to women was more common in Russia and Eastern European countries, but Britain has also seen an increase in flowers brought for this day. Most recent statistics show that there are 7.6 million foreign-born residents in the UK and more than a fifth are from Eastern Europe and Russia.

To celebrate International Women’s Day there are a variety of events happening throughout the UK. Our personal pick is the International Women’s Day 2019 Conference on March 8th in Birmingham, focusing on inspiring female business owners and entrepreneurs. The best part? It’s free! Register your interest here.

> Ilze Litina

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