International Women's day 2018: History and Significance of the day

Mentor for Bank Exams

International Women's day 2018: History and Significance of the day
International Women's Day is an event that is observed across the globe with the motive of women empowerment. The battle may be old wherein women are fighting for their due space in every industry, for equal rights and for gender equality. However, the war is yet to be won. Keeping this in mind, 8th March is observed as International Women's Day every year. The day is observed with a different theme each year and this year, the theme is to #PressforProgress.
Be it the political arena, the social landscape or the domestic space, International Women's Day seeks to give women equality at all fronts. The day started being observed since the early 1900s and has now become a recognized event.
The beauty of International Women's Day lies in the fact that it is not limited to any particular group or any one cause. It is observed across the globe by people from different walks of life, from governments, charitable organizations, women groups, corporations and what not. It is celebrated by dedicating discussions, marches, events, art, performances and conferences to the cause. However, if you want to trace back the history of the day, there are certain things you must know.
History of International Women’s Day
International Women's Day, or IWD as it is shortened, can be traced back to the time when about 15,000 women in New York marched the city asking for suffrage rights, shorter work hours and a better pay. This occurred in the year 1908. Post that, in 1909, National Women's Day was observed on February 28 in the United States. It was declared and organized by the Socialist Party of America by the suggestion of Theresa Malkiel.

In August 1910, it was proposed in the ‘women’s office’ of the Socialist Democratic party of Germany that every year, International Women’s Day be observed. The idea was proposed by Clara Zetkin, who was the leader of the office. The main objective of the day was to further women rights, suffrage rights in particular. The proposal got unanimous support by over 100 women across 17 countries. These women included the first three women who were elected in the Finnish Parliament. However, no specific date was decided to observe the day.
In 1911, the day was observed for the first time by over a million of men and women who attended rallies. The day was observed on 19 March in Switzerland, Denmark, Austria and Germany. However, the demands in question were not only limited to suffrage rights but also included women’s rights to work, to end discrimination at the workplace and to vocational training.
In the years around the World War I, IWD became a means to protest against the war. The women in Russia observed the day on the last Sunday of February. However, in the following year in Europe, women held protests and rallies around or on 8 March. 
It was in 1917 that women were finally allowed the right to vote. When the war was still on, Russian women protested against it and for ‘Bread and Peace’. They held the protest on the last Sunday of February again but as per Gregorian Calendar, the day fell on 8 th of March. Just four days post the protest, the provisional government granted suffrage rights to women. In February 1918 in UK, women over 30 and who owned property were allowed to vote.
1975 was a red-letter year in the history of IWD as the year was observed as the International Women’s Year by the United Nations. This Year, United Nations started observing March 8 as International Women’s Day. Also, the following ten years from 1976 to 1985 were observed as International Women’s Decade. In 2011, Barack Obama proclaimed March as the ‘Women’s History Month’.

Significance of International Women’s Day
IWD 2018 is special because it is marking a century to the granting of the first suffrage rights to women. There are many who question the need for the day in today’s changed times. It is required because the women are still fighting for their rights. The primary aim of gender equality is still not fully realized. As per the World Economic Forum, the gender gap is not going to close anytime soon. In fact, they quote 2186 to be the year when the gap will close. This is because there is still a lot of disparity between the salaries of men and women. If we look at the year 2017, women have worked free for 51 days of the year because of the disparity in pay. As we observe IWD, many hope that the trajectory of the rights of women and its vindication goes up and further.