What is International Women's Day and how has it begun to be celebrated?
You should be watching International Women's Day being mentioned in the press or hearing comments on the subject.
But what's this date for? When's it going to be? Is it a celebration or a protest? Is there anything equivalent to an International Men's Day? And what events are going to happen this year?
For more than a century, the 8th of March is identified around the world as a special date for women.
Next, we explain to you why.
1. How did it start?
International Women's Day originated in the labor movement and became an annual event recognized by the United Nations (UN).
Its seeds were planted in 1908, when 15,000 women marched through New York City demanding a reduction in working hours, better wages and voting rights. A year later, the Socialist Party of America declared the first National Women's Day.
The proposal to make the date international came from a woman named Clara Zetkin, a communist activist and advocate for women's rights.
She gave the idea in 1910 during an International Conference of Socialist Women in Copenhagen. There were 100 women from 17 countries present, and they agreed unanimously with her suggestion.
The date was first celebrated in 1911 in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland. And its centenary was celebrated in 2011 —so this year, we're technically celebrating the 111th International Women's Day.
But International Women's Day was only made official in 1975, when the UN began celebrating the date.
And it has become an occasion to celebrate women's advances in society, politics and the economy, while its political roots mean that strikes and protests are organized to raise awareness of continued gender inequality.
2. Why March 8th?
Clara's proposal to create an International Women's Day did not have a fixed date.
The date was only formalized after a war-going strike in 1917, when Russian women demanded "bread and peace" —and four days after the strike the Tsar was forced to abdicate, and the provisional government granted women the right to vote.
The women's strike began on February 23, by the Julian calendar, used in Russia at the time. This day corresponds to March 8 in the Gregorian calendar—and that's when it's celebrated today.
3. Why do people use purple color?
The purple color is often associated with the date, as it means 'justice and dignity'
Purple, green and white are the colors of International Women's Day, according to the official website.
"Purple means justice and dignity. Green symbolizes hope. White represents purity, although it is a controversial concept. The colours originated from the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU) in the UK in 1908," they say.
4. Is there an International Men's Day?
There is, it’s on November 19th.
But the date was only created in the 1990s and is not recognized by the UN. It is celebrated in more than 80 countries around the world, including the UK.
This day celebrates "the positive value that men bring to the world, their families and communities," according to the organizers, and aims to highlight positive models, raise awareness of men's well-being and improve gender relations. The theme for 2021 was "Better relations between men and women".
5. How is International Women's Day celebrated?
International Women's Day is a national holiday in many countries, including Russia, where flower sales double for three to four days around March 8.
In China, many women receive half a day off on March 8, as recommended by the State Council.
In Italy, International Women's Day, or La Festa della Donna, is celebrated with the delivery of mimosa buttons. The origin of this tradition is unclear, but it is believed to have begun in Rome after World War II.
In the U.S., March is Women's History Month. Every year, a presidential address honors the achievements of American women.
This year, the celebrations will continue to be somewhat different because of the covid-19 pandemic and virtual events are expected to take place around the world, including that of the UN.
6. What is the theme of 2022?
The UN has announced that its theme for 2022 is "Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow". Their events will recognize how women around the world are responding to climate change.
But there are also other themes. The International Women's Day website -- which it says was created to "provide a platform to help drive positive change for women" -- has chosen the theme #BreakTheBias and is asking people to imagine "a world free of gender, stereotypes and discrimination."
7. Why do we need this?
We witnessed a significant setback in the global struggle for women's rights last year. The Taliban's resurgence in August changed the lives of millions of Afghan women —girls were banned from high school, the Ministry for Women's Affairs in the country was dissolved, and many women were instructed not to return to work.
In the UK, the murder of Sarah Everard by a police officer on duty has reignited debates about women's safety.
The covid-19 pandemic also continues to have an impact on women's rights. According to the World Economic Forum's Global Gender Gap Report 2021, the time needed to end the global gender gap has increased in a generation, from 99.5 years to 135.6 years.
A 2021 UN Women's study based in 13 countries showed that nearly 1 in 2 women (45%) reported that they or a woman they know suffered some form of violence during the pandemic.
This includes non-physical abuse, with verbal abuse and denial of basic resources being the most common reported.
Despite concerns about coronavirus, marches took place around the world on International Women's Day last year.
In Mexico, groups of women transformed metal railings, erected to protect the National Palace, into a makeshift memorial for victims of feminicides.
In parallel, women in Poland held nationwide protests following the introduction of an almost total abortion ban in January 2021.
In recent years, however, there have been advances —especially with regard to female leadership.
Kamala Harris became the first black woman, and the first Asian-American vice president of the U.S. in 2021.
In the same year, Tanzania stook its first female president, Samia Suluhu Hassan, while Estonia, Sweden, Samoa and Tunisia had female prime ministers for the first time in history.
In January 2022, Xiomara Castro took office as honduras' first female president.
In 2021, New Zealand approved paid leave for women (and their partners) who have suffered miscarriage or in case of stillbirth. In 2020, Sudan criminalized female genital mutilation.
And we can't help but talk about the impact of #MeToo campaign, denouncing experiences of harassment and sexual assault. It started in 2017, but is now a global phenomenon.
In January 2022, a university professor in Morocco was sentenced to two years in prison for indecent behavior, sexual harassment and violence after college students broke the silence on the sexual favors he had demanded in exchange for good grades —a series of scandals of this kind tarnished the reputation of Moroccan universities in recent years.
Last year, there were also advances in abortion in several countries. In February 2022, Colombia decriminalized abortion in the first 24 weeks of gestation.
In the U.S., meanwhile, abortion rights have been restricted in some states, with Texas banning procedures from six weeks pregnant.