International Women's Day - background and significance
March 8th is International Women's Day, a date that has been celebrated worldwide for more than 100 years in order to draw attention to gender equality, women's rights and ending discrimination. International Women's Day has a long history and takes place every year under a different motto. The day is marked by various initiatives, including demonstrations, information events, rallies and campaigns against discrimination and in support of equal rights. Many of the celebrations and efforts today are initiated by the United Nations, which first organized March 8th celebrations in 1975.
History of International Women's Day
International Women's Day is more than 100 years old. It was initiated by the German socialist Carla Zetkin. The first Women's Day took place on March 19th, 1911, before March 8th was introduced as a fixed date after a few years. At that time, women's rights activists campaigned and demonstrated on this day for women to have the right to vote and to be elected. Women's Day was first held in Denmark, Germany, Austria-Hungary, the USA and Switzerland. Women's Day played a special role in the GDR. Especially in factories, the date played an important role. It was here that the custom arose of presenting female employees with flowers or small gifts. Over the years, the day became more and more relevant internationally and nowadays primarily has political meaning. In some countries, including Angola, Uganda and Ukraine, Women's Day is even considered an official holiday.
Women's Day in Germany
International Women's Day is also celebrated in Germany with a wide range of activities and events. Traditionally, important actors from various political orientations as well as female personalities from business and science unite. Attention is drawn to the achievements of the women's rights movement thus far and, at the same time, to discuss problem areas of persistent discrimination and inequality. Germany was among the first countries to celebrate International Women's Day, which is why the date has special significance here. However, Women's Day is not a nationwide public holiday here. Berlin is the only federal state to make it a public holiday, however, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern is also planning to introduce the date as a public holiday in the next few years.
Goals of International Women's Day
The original goal of International Women's Day was for women to obtain the right to vote. From the beginning, International Women's Day has also served the purpose of promoting equality and equity, fighting discrimination and highlighting injustices, along with denouncing violence against women. These issues are as relevant today as they were then, even if much has improved over the years as a result of women's suffrage, women's quotas and a growing awareness in society of equality issues. However even today, initiators of International Women's Day want and need to draw attention to the lack of equality, both in wealthy countries and in poorer regions. Modern issues of the women's movement, that are addressed on this day, include structural discrimination, inequality in pay - the so-called "gender pay gap" and the breaking down of traditional gender roles. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), set by the United Nations, are also an important topic for International Women's Day today.
Motto of International Women's Day 2022: #BreakTheBias
Every year, International Women's Day has a specific motto and this year the motto is #BreakTheBias. This focuses on breaking down stereotypes, prejudices and certain ideas about women and girls in order to achieve more equality and work towards a more equal, inclusive and diverse world. This serves to celebrate diversity and thus break through structural mechanisms of discrimination. Numerous demonstrations and rallies will be held again this year to work towards this goal.
Translated by Marit Hunt