History of International Women’s Day 8 March



History of International Women’s Day 8 March

How International Women’s Day is celebrated in Russia and other BRICS countries

The history of International Women’s Day can be traced back to 1908, when women marched in New York City in favour of equal rights with men and against unbearable working conditions. It took place on 16 February, and despite laws banning such events on weekends (it was a Sunday), no one was arrested. Newspaper reports described the action as a “great moral victory” for its participants. A year later, on the anniversary of the march, the Socialist Party of America proclaimed National Women’s Day, choosing the last Sunday in February as the day of celebration.

In 1910, German politician Clara Zetkin convinced the International Socialist Workers Congress to create an international version of the American holiday. On 19 March 1911, the first International Women’s Day was held in four European countries. However, the celebration of this date took root.

Russian women celebrated International Women’s Day for the first time on 2 March 1913. They held a demonstration in St Petersburg, which was then the capital, demanding the right to vote. On 8 March 1917 (23 February 1917 according to the Julian calendar), women organised another mass demonstration. Many historians believe that it was the beginning of the February Revolution, as a result of which Emperor Nicholas II abdicated.

International Women’s Day has been declared a bank holiday in Russia since 1918. In 1965 it became a non-working day. 8 March remained a public holiday in Russia even after the collapse of the USSR.

Since 1975, the UN began to observe International Women’s Day on 8 March.

8 March in the BRICS countries

The history of 8 March in China begins in 1922, and the Spanish Communists in 1936. After the founding of the People’s Republic of China on 1 October 1949, the day of 8 March was officially declared a women’s holiday, on which Chinese women work part-time.

Brazil also celebrates 8 March, but the day is more of a gender-political movement for women’s rights.

The BRICS countries are aware of this date, but they do not celebrate it as widely as in our country, and Brazilian and Chinese women, for example, do not have an extra day off on this day; relaxation at work is possible, but nothing more. In South Africa, the holiday is not celebrated.

In India, 8 March is a holiday to remind women of the importance of women’s rights and to fight for them, if necessary.

Women are congratulated more at work, encouraged at various ceremonies with awards for their contribution to public life. Women’s demonstrations may take place. Indian women do not expect bouquets, cakes, balloons and abundant compliments from men on this day. The meaning of the holiday is more human rights oriented. But in rural India, where more than 60 per cent of the population lives, they hardly know about the holiday,” said Natalia Emelyanova, vice-rector for international activities and information policy at the State Academic University of Humanities.

International Women’s Day in Russia

8 March in Russia is often celebrated with family or friends. Women receive flowers and cards as gifts. Many television programmes pay tribute to the achievements of famous Russian women of the past and present. Some Russian men like to take on all domestic duties on this day.

Spring flowers, especially tulips and lily of the valley, as well as images of mothers with their children have become symbols of the holiday for the residents of the country.

Most public institutions are closed on this day. Public transport may run less frequently than usual.

“Perhaps, in Russia, March 8 is a truly popular holiday, one of the most favourite in the industrial calendar. Its specificity is that it carries less and less the pathos of solidarity of working women. Russian women do not need to fight for labour and independence, so the meaning of the holiday is now shifted in another direction. It is just about purely feminine traits: about femininity, fragility, sensitivity, charm… And about the readiness of Russian men to express how much they appreciate it,” said Natalia Emelyanova.

What to give on 8 March

Flowers are the most traditional gift for 8 March. Mimosas and roses are especially popular. You can also give candies and chocolates, perfume, cosmetics, jewellery, household appliances, kitchen utensils, crystal and porcelain, clothes, shoes, books, mobile phones and cameras.

Some people like to please relatives and friends with gift cards of popular shops. The list can go on endlessly, but the main rule is to give a woman something she will like.





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