The Road to Equality: Tracing the Origins and Impact of International Women’s Day

8 March 2024


International Women’s Day (IWD) is an annual global day celebrated on March 8th to recognize women’s social, economic, cultural, and political achievements. It also serves as a call to action to accelerate gender parity. IWD’s legacy is rich in history and importance, stemming from its origins in the early 20th century to its role in the contemporary global movement for women’s rights.

Historical origins

The roots of International Women’s Day can be traced back to the early 1900s, a time of great expansion and turbulence in the industrialized world that saw booming population growth and the rise of radical ideologies. The first National Woman’s Day was observed in the United States on February 28, 1909, designated by the Socialist Party of America in honor of the 1908 garment workers’ strike in New York, where women protested against working conditions.

The first celebration

Inspired by American socialists, German Socialist Luise Zietz proposed the establishment of an annual International Women’s Day at the International Socialist Women’s Conference in Copenhagen in 1910. Clara Zetkin, a leader in the German women’s movement, supported Zietz’s proposal, and the conference unanimously approved it. This led to the first International Women’s Day being celebrated on March 19, 1911, in Austria, Denmark, Germany, and Switzerland, where more than one million women and men attended rallies campaigning for women’s rights to work, vote, be trained, to hold public office, and end discrimination.

UN recognition and global adoption

It wasn’t until 1975, during the International Women’s Year, that the United Nations began celebrating International Women’s Day on March 8th. Since then, IWD has become a global day of recognition and celebration. It honors women’s achievements and highlights the significant challenges that still lie ahead in the fight for gender equality.

Legacy and significance

The legacy of International Women’s Day is woven through the fabric of history, marked by struggles and victories in the quest for equality. It reminds us of the ongoing journey towards a world where gender parity is not just a goal but a reality. Each year, IWD is celebrated with a theme that focuses on specific challenges facing women, advocating for gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls. Importantly, the day also underscores the crucial role of diversity, equity, and inclusion in fostering more effective, innovative, and prosperous companies. By embracing these values, organizations unlock a wealth of perspectives and skills, paving the way for breakthroughs and sustainable growth.


As we celebrate International Women’s Day, we remember the courage and determination of women who have made significant contributions to history and society. It’s a day to reflect on the progress made, to call for change, and to celebrate acts of courage and determination by ordinary women who have played an extraordinary role in the history of their countries and communities. The legacy of IWD is not just about one day but about the collective action and solidarity of women and men throughout the year to continue pushing for gender equality and women’s rights worldwide.

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