Mother, sisters, wives, girlfriends and fiancees…what would we ever do without them? Nobody can honestly say we don’t owe an enormous amount to the women in our lives, from the mothers who made us chicken soup when we were sick as children, to the sisters who helped us decide what to wear on our first date, to the wives who somehow manage to juggle both a career and a family, never missing a beat.
Women’s Day is all about celebrating these incredible people and showing them how much we love, respect and value them. This holiday is perhaps especially important in parts of the world where women are still forced to deal with shocking inequality on a daily basis and is meant to raise awareness of the challenges and struggles faced by these women. Women’s Day celebrates women’s history, highlighting key events, milestones and achievements, and aims to further promote and raise awareness of women’s rights and to achieve equal opportunity status in all walks of life.
History of Women’s Day
It may come as a rather sad surprise that Women’s Day was first celebrated on February 28th, 1909 in New York. Two years later, German socialist Luise Zietz proposed that the holiday become an annually observed one that would celebrate various women’s issues, such as suffrage, so as to promote equal rights for women. The first few Women’s Days were celebrated in a quite different fashion than they are nowadays, with hundreds of demonstrations taking place in Europe.
During these demonstrations, women demanded they finally be given both the right to vote and to hold public office. Employment sex discrimination was also an important issue. In 1917, the Women’s Day demonstrations in Saint Petersburg, Russia, helped initiate the February Revolution, when women marched through the city demanding an end to World War I.
This shocked even Leon Trotsky, who, much like other Russian leaders of the day, did not expect the Women’s Day protests to cause that much of a stir. Until 1977, Women’s Day was celebrated mainly in socialist countries. It was only after the United Nations General Assembly’s decision to proclaim March 8th International Women’s Day that the holiday gained worldwide popularity.
How to celebrate Women’s Day
There are many ways that you can go about celebrating this holiday, but all of them have a similar goal: to raise awareness about the struggles of women the world over and honor their achievements. Of course, not all achievements are huge, worldwide game-changers like women finally obtaining the right to vote—there are all sorts of other, smaller feats that women you know manage on an everyday basis that you may not pay too much attention to until you try calming 2 crying toddlers, making dinner and explaining the particulars of a newly-acquired client to your boss over the phone at the same time.
This may sound ridiculously hard to pull off, but this is something thousands of women pull off every day, something that should be deeply appreciated and something that nobody should take for granted. Grand gestures aren’t necessarily required to show appreciation, either—sometimes a simple “thank you, I have no idea how you do it” is enough to lift an overworked woman’s spirits. If you’d like to do something more, though, there is a virtually endless amount of things you can do to help improve women’s lives the world.
You can attend one of the 1000+ events organized globally where you can learn about what women’s lives are like in different countries and make a donation to the event you attend. Reading books is also a great way of broadening your horizons, and biographies of women like fearless Somalian women’s rights activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali will definitely open your eyes and inspire you to see women’s lives and problems completely differently.