the legacy of women's day and how it began

we have observed international women’s day since the 1900s. in 1975, the day was designated as an official United Nations observance which then became international women’s day. so, it won’t be too wrong to suggest that women’s day has centuries’ worth of history; a legacy that involves fearless women going against all odds for the rights we enjoy today.

so, today we take a deep dive into the origins of women’s day and where it all started. the first thing to know is that it goes way back than 1975. in February 1908, thousands of women garment workers marched through New York City to demand better working conditions, shorter working hours, and better wages. the strikes went on for a year and the first National Women’s Day was celebrated in the United States on February 28, 1909, which was headed by the Socialist Party of America.

in 1910, the revolutionary socialist Clara Zetkin decided to turn it into an international day advocating for universal suffrage. this gave wings to the idea and led to its recognition in many parts of Europe.

on the heels of the Russian revolution, international women’s day took a much more prominent form. in 1917, international women’s day was held on February 23 in Russia when thousands of women marched to the capital in the backdrop of bread shortages; demanding better rights and the end of the autocracy. despite specific instructions, women began these strikes in March when they had to wait till May 1, which was labour day.  

a week after the protests began, the Tsar abdicated leading to the decimation of the Russian Empire that paved the path for a socialist revolution and the formation of the Soviet Union. could you have said that what we celebrate as international women’s day started with the toppling of an autocracy? this is the legacy of our freedom, fought by women who we have never even known.

it is for their memory and in their honour that this day becomes even more important.

happy women’s day because the day lives on in us and every breath of freedom we take. 

until next time, live aastey.