Since the International Women's Day has no single organizer or agenda, it is left for women everywhere to determine how they want to use it. It is left to women in all countries to define what the day means to them, and what they hope to achieve in the set day. Most women in public or private life use the occasion to address gender issues such as reproductive healthcare, gender equality, violence against women, girl-child education, female genital mutilation, maternity leave and paid holidays among others.
How did the celebrations of the International Women's Day begin?
The first National Woman's Day was held in the US on February 23, 1909. Then the following year in 1910, the International Conference of Working Women took place in Denmark - here a woman, Clara Zetkin, suggested that women everywhere celebrate themselves on a given day of the year. The over 100 women from 17 countries that attended the meeting agreed to the suggestion and this was the beginning of the International Women's Day.
The seed was planted in 1909 but it actually began to grow in 1911 when the first International Women's Day held across Switzerland, Denmark, Austria and Germany on March 19, 1911. And in 1913, March 8 became designated as the official day for the celebration of International Women's Day. It used to be termed as "woman's" day but got changed to "women's" day around late 1940; and the United Nations ratified the global concept in 1975.
How do women everywhere celebrate the IWD?
There is no specific way the IWD is to be celebrated, but women everywhere use the occasion to press for women's rights. It is celebrated as an official holiday for women in several countries and they stay off paid and unpaid work. And it is used to push for political inclusiveness and awareness for women in several countries. Some other women in some countries use the day to honor outstanding women that have fought for women's rights and led the political cause of women in general. Generally-speaking, people everywhere use the day to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political rights achievements of women in the society.
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