February 28, 1909
Organized in New York, the first "National Women's Day" was thrown by the Socialist Party of America (dissolved in 1972). Two years later they decided to move the date to March 8th, and it went international. Inspired by the Americans, the celebration spread to Austria, Denmark, Germany, and Switzerland. By 1911, over a million people worldwide were involved in the demonstrations marking the day and the battle for suffrage that it entailed. In 1913, Russian women joined in, commemorating the day.
The Russian women would march again in 1917, but this time in far greater numbers than seen before. The women textile workers began the demonstration on the March 8, 1917 demanding "bread and peace". The demonstration would spark the communist revolution, leading to the Czar's abdication a week later, and winning for the Russian women the right to vote in the new government. Due to its importance in sparking the communist revolution, International Women's Day quickly spread to all communist nations and parties.
In 1975, the United Nations began celebrating International Women's Day. It is currently observed in over 30 countries, not including the United States. In 1994, Rep. Maxine Waters introduced legislation to observe the date along with 79 cosponsors, but it never made it to vote, getting stuck in committee.
Last year, the theme for International Women's Day was "Women in the Changing World of Work: Planet 50-50 by 2030". The goal is move the world closer towards equality in terms of representation, pay, and rights. As everyone knows, gender equality is still a long way off, even in western societies such as the United States. The gap is considerably worse across globally, with the UN citing a 24 percent gap in pay. Across the world, women are often unpaid for their work. Child care, cooking, cleaning, farming, and so on are often jobs that women fill without pay though these activities bring stability to the family and community.
One of the sectors where women have an equitable, or even superior share of the workforce, is in services such as house cleaning. At You've Got Maids®, many of our maids, team leaders, office managers, and franchise owners are women, and we love doing business with them every day. As a company, we seek to create a dignified workplace for all people to join. Our franchisees truly come from all walks of life, and that's something we're very proud of.
To learn more about International Women's Day, check out the UN's page about it, and learn more about how you can get involved in the discussion. Furthermore, here's a link about what the Red Cross is doing to improve the position of women all across the world. Lastly, vote with your dollar by supporting businesses that in some shape or fashion improve the situation for women in your community and abroad. Through small simple acts we can all work together to make things better.