International Women’s Day was first celebrated in 1911. The concept was proposed in 1910 at an International Conference of Working Women in Copenhagen. Then on 19 March 1911, more than one million women and men attended International Women’s Day events across Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland. They were campaigning for women’s rights, including the right to vote, work and hold public office.
Since 1911, International Women’s Day has been held annually on 8 March. It is an important forum because:
- it celebrates the economic, political and social achievements of women, and their vital role in societies across the world, and
- it provides an occasion to reflect on and promote the work that still needs to be done towards true gender equality.
International Women’s Day is a crucial opportunity to keep women’s issues on national and international agendas. Despite greater protection for the rights of women - improved access to education; health care and employment - women still do not enjoy the same rights and opportunities as men in many areas.
March 8, 2011 marked the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day.
- International Women’s Day is now observed in 68 countries
- In some parts of the world such as Eastern Europe and China, it has a status equivalent to Mothers’ Day, where small gifts are given to mothers and grandmothers. In some countries it is marked by a public holiday.
- In other parts of the world, such as North America, Western Europe and Australia, International Women’s Day has maintained its strong political and social awareness theme.
- The United Nations promotes International Women’s Day every year.
International Women's Day 2012
- Today, think about rural women living with violence (8 March 2012)
- Harder for rural women to access DV services (6 March 2012)
- UN Women Australia’s International Women’s Day website for further information about the history of International Women’s Day, information about UN Women’s theme and projects.
- For information about International Women’s Day events in your area, visit UN Women Australia's website.