International Women's Day (IWD) is a global day celebrating the economic, political and social achievements of women past, present and future. In some countries like China, Russia, Vietnam and Bulgaria, IWD is a national holiday. The first IWD event was run in 1911 so 2011 sees the Global Centenary.
2011 is the global centenary year for International Women’s Day – 100 years since the first International Women's Day event was run. More than one million women and men attended rallies in 1911.
March 8 sees extensive global women's activity. Performer and social activist, Annie Lennox, will lead a mass march across London's Millennium Bridge for charity. In Washington D.C. over a thousand people will descend on Capitol Hill demanding a better world for millions of marginalized women and girls around the globe. A major international businesswomen's conference will be hosted in Sydney, Australia.
Schools and governments around the world are participating in the day. Trade Unions and charities are campaigning. Global corporations are hosting conferences and distributing extensive resource packs. The United Nations Secretary-General delivers a formal message. The United States even designates the whole month of March as Women's History Month as officially proclaimed by President Obama on February 28, 2011.
The first International Women's Day was celebrated in Europe on March 8, 1911. Women's issues were at the forefront of many heated conversations at the time. Topics like Women's suffrage and Women's rights could turn a civilized dinner into a brouhaha.
Soon the Depression Era of the 1930's took over and women's rights were put on a back burner. Then in the 50's and 60's Betty Friedan started bringing the women's movement back to life and finally by the 1970's many universities started including Women's History in their curriculum.
In 1978 Women's History Week was started in California, and the week of March 8th was chosen to coincide with International Women's Day.
Three years later under a resolution co-sponsored by republican Senator Orrin Hach of Utah and Democrat Representative Barbara Mikulski of Maryland, Women's History Week was nationally endorsed and recognized.
In 1987 Congress expanded the week to a month, and the U.S. Congress has issued a resolution every year since then, with wide support, for Women's History Month.
Women's History Month is a chance to increase consciousness and knowledge of women's history. In this one month out of the year the contributions of notable and ordinary women are in the spotlight and acknowledged.
This month is a wonderful opportunity for all of us to remember the women who have paved the way for us and create a little history of our own at the same time.
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