March is recognised as Women’s History Month worldwide. Most of us are more aware of International Women’s Day on March 8th. Still, the whole month is actually an opportunity to celebrate women’s role in history and campaign for a better, more equal future. Let’s explore Women’s History Month and its origins.
When is women’s history month?
Women’s History Month is celebrated each March. There are events all over the country to explore and celebrate women’s roles in key historical events and how they’ve shaped our present and future. Since 1996 there has been a theme attached to the awareness month.
What is the theme for Women’s History Month 2023?
The main campaign theme for 2023 is #EmbraceEquity, while the United Nations have an additional theme of DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality. Gender equality and tackling the global gender pay gap have been on the agenda for many years. This women’s history month is a further opportunity to explore the problem and seek solutions.
The history of Women’s History Month
International Women’s Day has been observed since the early 20th century, as women began to recognise the inequality they experienced and mobilise due to this. Here are some of the key dates in the timeline of recognising and celebrating women’s history.
1908: Women march through New York City
Great unrest and debates about equality were becoming more commonplace in the early 20th century. By 1908, American women took to the street, with over 15,000 marching through New York City demanding better pay, the right to vote, and shorter working hours.
A declaration by the Socialist Party of America in 1909 led to the observation of the first National Woman’s Day in the USA on February 28th. Women continued to celebrate the occasion on the last Sunday of February until 1913.
1910: Copenhagen and the International Conference of Working Women
1910 marked the second International Conference of Working Women in Copenhagen. The event saw the tabling of an idea to hold an International Women’s Day every year. The conference, with over 100 women from over 17 countries, unanimously approved the idea, leading to the first International Women’s Day.
1913: International Women’s Day moved to March
During their peace campaigns, Russian woman observed their first International Women’s Day on the last Sunday of February in 1913. The day was then moved to March 8th after discussion with the main parties involved, and it has remained on that date ever since.
1975: International Women’s Year
International Women’s Day was considered a socialist campaign for many years, but soon it became more mainstream. By the middle of the 20th century, the United Nations were officially recognising the event, and in 1975, they announced a whole year of celebration. Women’s organisations and governments around the world have also observed International Women’s Day annually on March 8th, and many more use the whole month as an opportunity to learn and campaign.
Key Facts about Women’s History Month
Women’s History Month is an opportunity to explore and celebrate everything women have contributed throughout history and what work there is still to do to reach equality. Let’s explore some of the key facts about Women’s History Month and the work we still have to do:
1. Women’s History is an official holiday in many countries
Twenty-seven countries around the world consider International Women’s Day an official holiday, much like a bank holiday. In some countries, including China and Nepal, only women benefit from the holiday.
2. Women’s History Month is treated like a traditional holiday in some countries
For some nations, International Women’s Day is celebrated as a joint holiday. In countries including Serbia and Albania, it is also treated as Mother’s Day, and children will give gifts to their mothers and grandmothers.
3. Globally women earn 23% less than men
The gender pay gap is real, and the United Nations figures show women make 23% less than men. If things continue at the same rate, then we will not reach equal pay until 2069.
4. Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland celebrated the first International Women’s Day
The work of the International Conference of Working Women in Copenhagen led to the first International Women’s Day in 1910. Only four countries recognised the first event, but interest quickly spread, and now countries around the world recognise the importance of the annual event.