International Women's Day: History and present of March 8

Source : 112 Ukraine

For the time being, the state holiday in Ukraine on this day has not been cancelled. Read further about the reasons to do so, the history and theories of appearance of the International Women's Day
08:05, 8 March 2018


On March 8, Ukraine marks the International Women's Day. In 2018, this day remains a state holiday. Despite the proposals to cancel it.

"March Of The Empty Pots"

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The most famous version of the beginning of the tradition to celebrated International Women's Day comes from New York on March 8, 1857. On this day, the so-called "March Of The Empty Pots" took place here. This was a demonstration of women working at textile dyeing plants.

Women demanded shorter work hours, better pay and voting rights.

The name of the demonstration is due to the form of protest: demonstrators were beating the pots, drawing attention.

In the end, police dispersed the rally, but after that, women created a labor union aimed at fighting for their rights.

50 years later…

The situation repeated itself. On March 8, 1908, in New York, a new meeting with slogans on even rights for women, initiated by the local Social Democratic women’s organization took place. It gathered 15,000 women and had the same demands as 50 years ago.

In 1909, the Socialistic Party of the United States announced national women’s day, which was celebrated on the last Sunday of February until 1913. In 1090, it was the 28th of February.

And in 1910, the Second International Conference of Women was held in Danish Copenhagen, where the idea of International women’s day received a strong push. It was due to the famous communist Clara Zetkin

         Ich bin Zetkin. Clara Zetkin


German political activist and a prominent participant of international communist movement Clara Zetkin is believed to be an author of the idea to establish the International Women’s Day.

At the conference in Copenhagen in 1910, she proposed to establish a Day of women’s solidarity in a fight for political, economic and social rights. It was about the day on which women would hold meetings and marches, attracting more attention to their problems.

The resolution of Clara Zetkin said:

“In agreement with the class-conscious political and trade organizations of the proletariat in their country, the socialist women of all nationalities have to organize a special Women’s Day, which in the first line has to promote Women Suffrage propaganda. This demand must be discussed in connection with the whole women’s question according to the socialist conception of social things. The conference must have an international character and be prepared with care.”

Initially, the specific day has not been chosen, that’s why in 1911, the first International Women’s Day in many European countries was marked on March 19. On this day in 1848, the king of Prussia facing the threat of the armed uprising promised to conduct reforms – including the introduction of voting rights for women.  

Later, the date was changing up until 1914. At that time, in many countries, the women’s day was held on March 8 as it coincided with Sunday. So, the date became final.

Other Versions

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Firstly, there is a version that in 1857 in New York, women indeed protested but they were not the textile workers, but the women rendering sexual services. Allegedly, they demanded to pay wages to marines who used their services but they had no money to pay for them.

The second version is the celebrating the IWD on March 8 was a wish of Clara Zetkin to link women’s movement with the Jewish history, in particular, Purim holiday that in 1910 happened to be on March 8.

Another version is that number 8 was not chosen by accident as this number more than any other resembles woman’s body.

March 8 and United Nations

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Since 1975, in connection with International Women's Year, the UN started holding International Women’s Day on March 8.

In 1977, the UN General Assembly in its resolution proposed the countries to announce any day of this year a UN International day of the fight for women’s rights and international peace in accordance with their traditions.

Events, dedicated to the UN International Day of the fight for women’s rights and international peace were timed to March 8.

March 8 and USSR


The day of March 8 became an official holiday in USSR only in 1965. Before, it was a regular working day. There was a tradition: every year the politicians reported to people about the changes in state policy regarding women.

Which countries celebrate March 8?

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There not many countries which celebrate the holiday, but still. For example, International Women’s Day is a statutory holiday in North Korea, Mongolia, Angola, Zambia, Cambodia, Kenia, and Uganda.   

In China, it is a holiday with a short working day for women.

Also, March 8 is marked in Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kirgizia, Latvia, Moldova, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Ukraine.  

March 8 and Ukraine

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“I think that it will be an important step forward for the country. This a continuation of the decommunization. Because we have to stop living synchronized with the aggressor-state,” said Volodymyr Viatrovych, the head of the Ukrainian Institute of National Memory in September last year.

This is about the bill of the Ukrainian Institute of National Memory submitted to the Cabinet of Ministers for consideration. The document, in particular, proposes to cancel the state holiday on the International Women’s Day and change the name to the Day of the fight for women’s rights.

That doesn’t mean cancelling this day as a holiday. It is proposed to cancel the day off and give the holiday a rights protection name. The document is still being considered by the government.

Related: Ukraine’s chess master Muzychuk wins ACP European Women’s Championship 2017

Related: Women in the workplace: Which jobs are not for women in Ukraine?

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