March 8 is as International Women’s Day (IWD). It is an occasion marked by women’s group from all fronts all over the world. This date is also commemorated at the United Nations and is designated in many countries as national holiday.
Here at home, it is celebrated as the National Women’s Day. The observance of Women’s Day is generally low key. The commemoration of various forms is eclipsed further by the fact that Hallmark Cards and commercialization in general has not officially adopted the date yet. Thus March 8 rightly or wrongly has yet to be commodified. For only then will it start getting fully noticed and only then will its significance get the attention it deserves.
Then again, we do not think women’s groups all over the world would feel comfortable in trivializing March 8 altogether. After all, Women’s day has so much history behind it. For some women, it goes far beyond wearing shirts in shade of purple and pockets of celebrating. It is a day when women like me can look back to a tradition that represents at least nine decades of struggle for equality, justice, peace and development.
International Women’s Day is the story of ordinary women as makers of history; it is rooted in the centuries-old struggle of women to participate in society on an equal footing with men. In ancient Greece, Lysistrata initiated a sexual strike against men in order to end war; during the French Revolution, Parisian women calling for “liberty, equality, fraternity” marched on
Versailles to demand women’s suffrage.
The first IWD was observed on 28 February 1909 in the
United States following a declaration by the Socialist Party of America. Among other relevant historic events, it commemorates the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire (New York, 1911), where over 140 women lost their lives. The idea of having an international women’s day was first put forward at the turn of the 20th century amid rapid world industrialization and economic expansion that led to protests over working conditions. Women from clothing and textile factories staged one such protest on 8 March 1857 in
New York City. The garment workers were protesting what they saw as very poor working conditions and low wages. The protesters were attacked and dispersed by police. These women established their first labor union in the same month two years later.
More protests followed on 8 March in subsequent years. Over the years, IWD has been host to conferences galore, and alongside activity organized by the women’s movement, some government bodies sponsor of official IWD recept