International Women's Day: What's It All About?

Article excerpt

Today is the 100th anniversary of International Women's Day. In 1911 - the year the holiday was first celebrated internationally - women could not yet vote in most countries. Now, a number of women serve as presidents and in other positions of power. But there's still more to do if women are to enjoy the same access and rights as men, say International Women's Day organizers and the UN. This year's focus? "Equal access to education, training, and science and technology: Pathway to decent work for women."Read on to find out more about International Women's Day.

Today is the 100th anniversary of International Women's Day. In 1911 - the year the holiday was first celebrated internationally - women could not yet vote in most countries. Now, a number of women serve as presidents and in other positions of power. But there's still more to do if women are to enjoy the same access and rights as men, say International Women's Day organizers and the UN. This year's focus? "Equal access to education, training, and science and technology: Pathway to decent work for women."

Read on to find out more about International Women's Day.

#5 What are its origins?

International Women's Day began as National Women's Day in the US in 1909 and has its roots in the now defunct Socialist Party of America. The following year, a German woman named Clara Zetkin proposed the first International Women's Day while at the second International Conference of Working Women, held in Copenhagen. The day was first celebrated internationally in 1911 and has been observed in many countries every year since then. It was moved from its original date in late February to its current date, March 8, in 1913.

The United Nations began honoring International Women's Day in 1975, the UN-proclaimed International Women's Year. In 1977, it went a step further, adopting a resolution recognizing International Women's Day. Since its first celebration, the UN has hosted four international women's conferences and in 2010, it created the UN Entity for Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women - also known as UN Women.

#4 Why do we have a day to celebrate women?

When the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution in 1977 declaring observance of a women's day worldwide, it cited two reasons: a chance to honor women's contributions to international peace and security, and recognition that peace, social progress, human rights, and fundamental freedoms come hand-in-hand with gender equality. Countries around the world had observed International Women's Day for decades, but the UN declaration was a big step in recognition.

In 2010, the UN established UN Women to focus on gender equity and female empowerment. In Executive Director Michelle Bachelet's remarks in honor of International Women's Day this year, the former president of Chile highlighted that women lag behind men in literacy, basic schooling, and governance.

"It is not just women who pay the price for this discrimination," she said. "We all suffer for failing to make the most of half the world's talent and potential. …