March 8th marks this year’s International Women’s Day – the celebration of women worldwide. This day is extremely important, and as said on International Women’s Day website, it’s a day to “Celebrate women’s achievement. Raise awareness against bias. Take action for equality”.

But many of us don’t know much about the celebration; how did it start? Is it celebrated in every single country? Is it even an official celebration? Well, wonder no more, as here are 7 facts that you never knew about International Women’s Day.

1. The Day Came About in 1909

The origins of International Women’s Day start on February 28th, 1909. A ‘National Women’s Day’ was organised by the Socialist Party of America and took place that year. The following year, the leader of ‘Women’s Office’ for the Social Democratic Party – Clara Zetkin – suggested that there should be a global women’s day, and a year later it was held. Over a million people across countries such as Denmark, Austria and Germany took part in International Women’s Day in 1911.

2. But It Wasn’t Officially Recognised Until 1975

It was in 1975 that the United Nations decided to celebrate the occasion. As the main sponsor of the day, they have urged countries to celebrate the day and hold an observance on the day each year. This year, the observance is on the 8th from 10-11.30am, and the UN have pointed out what they are focusing on this year:

“This year’s IWD observance is in recognition and celebration of the women and girls who are leading the charge on climate change adaptation and response, and to honour their leadership and contribution towards a sustainable future.”

3. It Got Women the Right To Vote in Russia

In 1917, Russian women used the day to begin striking against World War I and gender inequality. the women protested for several days and stood strike despite the fact that they were being shot at by the Petrograd Military District. This was done as per the request of the country’s leader at the time  Czar Nicholas II – however Czar withdrew the military and eventually granted women the right to vote in Russia that same year.

4. The Day Has an Official Theme Every Year

Each year there is an official theme – and this year it is #BreakTheBias. This hashtag was inspired by the desire to eradicate stereotypes and discrimination towards women and is part of the larger fight for inclusivity and equality for all genders globally. Biases about women can hinder them in every aspect of life. Be it professional or personal environments, no one wants to have to faces prejudice and biases against them. The theme this year should inspire us all to make a conscious effort call out gender bias when we see it, as it is those small efforts that add up to large scale change.

international women's day

5. It Is Often Celebrated in Conjunction with Mother’s Day

The month of March is a great month for celebrating the women in our lives. Though Mother’s Day is towards the end of the month for us here in the UK, many other countries have combined the two. Places such as Albania, Macedonia, Uzbekistan, and Serbia all celebrate Mother’s Day and International Women’s Day at once – the perfect excuse to shower women with appreciation for a day!

6. Purple, Green and White are the Official Colours of The Day

International Women’s Day not only has an official website and logo, but it also has official colours! The purple, green and white come from the UK’s Women’s Social and Political Union. In 1908, these colours were selected to represent the day as purple signifies dignity, green is a symbol of hope, and white signifies purity.

7. We Still Need More Women’s Rights

Despite the endless efforts to achieve global equality between the sexes, we still aren’t quite there. The facts are shocking when it comes to women’s rights internationally. In over 49 countries, there are no specific laws against domestic violence against women. Even worse, 130 million girls do not attend school globally. In addition, thanks to the COVID pandemic, 11 million girls won’t be able to return to education.

Stats like these are why we need events like International Women’s Day. Women have fought every obstacle put in their way and will always continue to do so. But support globally can go a long way in helping those women who are in vulnerable positions and cannot help themselves. So, this International Women’s Day, let’s make the effort to make a change. Take a moment to offer support to women in some way – this could be donating to a women’s charity, supporting women’s rights on the International Women’s Day official site, or by educating yourself on some of the female pioneers we have featured on the Inclusion Post!