Thursday, 3 April 2008

IWD: Origins, Supporters, Stats and Local Events

The Origins

A conference of over 100 women, from more than 17 countries, met in Copenhagen in 1910. A decision was made to establish an international women's day, to honour the movement for women's rights. The first International Women's Day was celebrated on the 19th of March the following year, when more than one million women and men attended rallies in Austria, Germany, Denmark and Switzerland.

Russian women celebrated the day for the first time in 1914 as part of the growing Peace Movement on the eve of the first World War. They were joined the following year by women all over Europe, in rallies to protest against the war and to show solidarity to the sisterhood.

Some Supporting Organisations and Scary Stats

International Women's Day is supported by a number of organisations today, including:

Action Aid

Women count for 70% of those living in poverty around the world.

Amnesty International

At least one out of every three women has been beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in her lifetime.

Every year, close to 500,000 women are trafficked to Western Europe. It is also estimated that approximately 50,000 women are trafficked to the U.S. every year. This problem also exists in India where almost 200,000 Nepalese women are trafficked into brothels.


Every week at least two women are killed by violent partners or ex-partners.

Women's Aid

Although domestic violence is traditionally an under-reported crime, the Police in the UK receive one call every minute about this issue.


The eradication of poverty cannot succeed without equality and justice for women.

... current international policies rob women of livelihoods, healthcare and other economic rights, while feeding fundamentalist backlash and militarism that deprive women of personal autonomy and choices.

This GCAP Feminist Taskforce webpage has some great ideas for celebrating IWD, by the way, if you fancy organising something yourself next year!

UK Events in 2008

Although aliqot and I found it hard to dig up much information at the time, it seems IWD is indeed celebrated around the world and there were even many events in the UK. So, why do so few women seem to know much (if anything) about it?

Perhaps it's just the women I know who don't know! Because IWD was celebrated this year in various ways in towns, cities and boroughs across the country, including:

Barking and Dagenham - held a day filled with speakers, workshops and presentations, with the theme of 'Shaping Progress.'

Brighton and Hove - have been celebrating IWD for almost 20 years and held a week of events from the 6th to the 12th of March.

Cambridge - celebrated IWD throughout March.

There were plenty of other examples, but none in Scarborough ... I'm working on that for next year, though!

Did you know of (or were you involved in) any International Women's Day celebrations this year?


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