What “Women’s Day” celebrates and why the date of March 8 was chosen

“Women’s Day” is sometimes seen as an occasion for celebrate with friends or receive flowers, especially the mimosas. However, the anniversary of8th of March it’s not a real party, but one anniversary of political significance, which serves to remember the achievements of the feminist movement and to claim the rights not yet acquired by women. The official name of the day, recognized by the United Nations, is International Women’s Day (International Women’s Day).

The celebration was born within the feminist movement of the early 1900s and for many years it was a “partisan” celebration, recognized only by women from the socialist and communist areas. In recent decades, however, it has been accepted by all political currents. In Italy the symbol of the day is the flower of Mimosachosen in 1946 byItalian Women’s Union.

The origins of International Women’s Day

The origins of the Day are to be found in the years between the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, when they spread to many countries movements for the demand for gender equality (then not called in this way) and, in particular, for the right to vote, which was denied to women almost everywhere. The feminist movement was divided into two great currents: that of the socialist area and the liberal one. The idea of ​​establishing a special day for the affirmation of women’s rights was born in the socialist area.

Strike of textile workers in New York (1909)

In 1909, the Socialist Party of the United States decided to dedicate a day to the struggles for women’s emancipation, with the aim of raising public awareness, and chose the last Sunday of February as the date. The following year, at the International Conference of Socialist Women held in Copenhagen, the American delegates proposed making the event international. The proposal was not fully accepted, but between 1910 and 1911 the celebration of the Day spread to many countries. However, there was no single date. In France, for example, the first celebration took place on March 18, 1911, the anniversary of the Paris Commune.

However, the very widespread thesis according to which the celebration originated fromfire of the Triangle factory in New York, which on March 25, 1911 caused the death of 123 workers and 23 men. The celebration had in fact been introduced two years earlier. However, the Triangle tragedy favored the growth of feminist movements and, indirectly, facilitated the spread of the Day. However, the legend that the date derives from a fire that occurred on 8 March 1908 is completely unfounded: it never happened.

The choice of March 8 and the celebrations around the world

The first time women’s day was celebrated on March 8 was in 1914 in Germany, but the choice was random (it was a Sunday). The date was “officially” established in 1921 from the Conference of Communist Women, held in Moscow, in memory of the uprising that took place in 1917 in Petrograd (now St. Petersburg), which had led to the overthrow of the Tsar. Among the rebels, women were very numerous, also because most of the men were engaged in the First World War.

Protests in Petrograd on 8 March 1917

March 8 remained one for a long time “partial” anniversarycelebrated only by women of communist and socialist ideology, but in the 60s and 70s, corresponding to a new wave of struggles for gender equality, the celebration “extended” and it involved women of all political affiliations. Since 1977 the date of March 8 has been recognized by the United Nations as women’s rights day.

Today the anniversary is sometimes emptied of its meaning and interpreted simply as an occasion to celebrate, but in many contexts it is seen as an opportunity for commitment in favor of gender equality. In the West, women’s associations organize events and initiatives.

March 8, 2020 in Spain

In countries where the condition of women is particularly difficult, the celebration is opposed by the institutions. This is the case ofIran, where on some occasions demonstrations were forcibly dispersed by the police. The anniversary of March 8 should not be confused with the World Day for the Elimination of Violence against Womenintroduced by the UN in 1999, which is celebrated on 25 November.

March 8th in Italy is the symbol of the mimosa

The first 8 March Italian was celebrated in 1922 on the initiative of the Communist Party, but the rise to power of the fascist regime, which took place in October of that same year, put an end to both the celebration and the battles for women’s emancipation. The celebration of March 8 was re-established after the Second World War on the initiative of theItalian Women’s Union, the feminist association of the social-communist area, which in 1946 also chose the symbol of March 8, the Mimosabecause it is a flower that grows spontaneously all over the country.