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Celebrating International Women's Day (IWD) 2024

5th March 2024

With International Women’s Day (IWD) 2024 fast approaching, we wanted to take a moment to celebrate this global women’s rights movement, its origins, and why it matters to us.

Keep reading for a brief history of International Women’s Day, from its beginnings in the U.S. to how we celebrate it today.

When Is International Women’s Day 2024?

International Women’s Day (IWD) will be celebrated on Friday, the 8th of March 2024.

What Is the Theme for International Women’s Day 2024?

The campaign theme for International Women’s Day 2024 is “Inspire Inclusion”. It’s all about inspiring others to value and advocate for women’s inclusion. Because when women are inspired and included, the world is a better place.

The IWD 2024 #InspireInclusion campaign aims to work together to create a more inclusive world where all women feel empowered and a strong sense of belonging.

In other words, it’s a collective commitment to inspiring inclusion.

This resonates with us here at Dura-ID.

We’re committed to creating a truly inclusive workforce that uplifts and empowers every employee regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, religion, sexual identity, or social background.

So, we’d like to take this opportunity to celebrate all of the powerful women who are the driving force behind our business.

The History Behind International Women’s Day

The first-ever International Women’s Day was in March 1911. It was (and remains) a day of collective activism and celebration across the globe, where people from every corner of the earth can come together to support women’s equality.

In the words of activist and feminist Gloria Steinem:

“The story of women’s struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organization but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights.”

history of IWD
Clara Zetkin (left) & Rosa Luxemburg on their way to the SPD Congress. Magdeburg, 1910
Source: Wikipedia

Here’s a timeline of the history of IWD.

• 1900s: The 1900s was a time of expansion in the industrial world. However, the continued oppression that women faced created a period of unrest.

• 1908: Women started to become more vocal in their campaign for equality, taking action more than ever before. This led to 15,000 women marching in New York City in 1908, demanding better pay, working conditions, and voting rights.

• 1909: On the 28th of February, 1909, the first National Woman’s Day (NWD) took place across the United States. American women continued to celebrate NWD on the last Sunday of February until 1913.

• 1910: 1910 saw the second International Conference of Working Women in Copenhagen. During the conference, Clara Zetkin (Leader of the ‘Women’s Office’ for the Social Democratic Party in Germany) suggested establishing an annual “Women’s Day”. However, they didn’t specify a date. One hundred delegates from 17 countries agreed to the proposal.

• 1911: The first International Women’s Day was on the 19th of March, 1911, in Austria, Denmark, Germany, and Switzerland. There were more than one million attendees at the IWD rallies. Unfortunately, just a week later, there was a tragic fire in New York City, known as the ‘Triangle of Fire’. It took the lives of around 140 working women. This devastating incident spotlighted women’s working conditions and labour laws, impacting future IWD events.

• 1913: Russian women held their first International Women’s Day on the 23rd of February 1913 (the last Sunday in February). They agreed to translate this date to the Gregorian Calendar date (the 8th of March), making it the official global date of IWD.

• 1914: There were more rallies across Europe, with women taking to the streets to protest the war and express women’s solidarity. World-famous feminist Sylvia Pankhurst was arrested on her way to speak at a rally in Trafalgar Square.

• 1917: Russian women began a historic strike for “Bread and Peace” on the last Sunday of February 1917. This came as a response to the deaths of over 2 million Russian soldiers during World War 1. The women of Russia continued to strike for four days until the Czar abdicated and the provisional government granted women their voting rights.

• 1975: This was a historic year for women, with the UN marking International Women’s Day for the first time. Two years later, in 1977, the UN General Assembly introduced a resolution. It stated that Member States could observe a United Nations Day for Women’s Rights and International Peace on any date following their historical and national traditions.

Looking at the history of womens day
A flyer for International Women’s Day, Saturday the 6th of March, 1976. Source: Wikipedia

• 1996: The UN announced its first-ever annual theme: “Celebrating the Past, Planning for the Future”. This was a big step in recognising the women’s movement on a broader scale. It led the way for future themes, including “Women at the Peace Table” (1997), “Women and Human Rights” (1988), and “World Free of Violence Against Women” (1999).

• 2000: There was little activity in the mainstream regarding IWD, and feminism wasn’t a hot topic at this time. As a result, organisers realised they needed to do something to re-ignite the movement and raise awareness.

• 2001: Organisers launched the platform to re-invigorate the IWD event and encourage widespread participation. The website became a valuable hub for sharing information, organising IWD fundraising events, and celebrating women and their achievements. Each year, the IWD website chooses an annual campaign theme and gives a framework for those who want to hold IWD events. Some previous campaign themes include #EmbraceEquity, #BreakTheBias, #ChooseToChallenge, and #EachforEqual.

• 2011: This marks the 100-year centenary of the first International Women’s Day held in Austria, Denmark, Germany, and Switzerland. US President Obama declared March 2011 as “Women’s History Month” and urged the public to reflect on the accomplishments of women in shaping the country. In the UK, Annie Lennox led an iconic march across London to raise awareness for the charity Women for Women International. IWD began to make its way into the mainstream.

IWD 2024 and Beyond

A lot has changed since the IWD movement began back in the early 1900s. However, we still have more work to do.

Women still face unequal payment and a lack of representation in business and politics. As a society, we still need better women’s education programmes, health advancements, and laws against gender violence.

We’re hopeful that in the near future, we’ll see equal rights and representation for everyone and more initiatives to uplift women and celebrate their achievements.