A Brief History of International Women's DayA Brief History of International Women's Day

A Brief History of International Women's Day

International Women’s Day 2022

What exactly is International Women’s Day?

International Women’s Day, IWD, is a chance for the world to celebrate the achievements of women and also a time to raise more serious issues on a global platform. Having this one day to bring the world’s attention to a worthy cause that may otherwise have been overshadowed or overlooked completely, is a great opportunity to highlight some of the bias and inequality that many women face on a daily basis. Raising worldwide awareness of these sometimes sensitive issues can help combat gender bias and discrimination and hopefully accelerate gender parity on a universal level.

On a slightly less serious note it also gives the woman of the world a chance to bond and unify with other like-minded women on a day that celebrates the political, social, cultural and economic achievements of womankind worldwide.

Fundraising for female focused charities is now also a big part of global events on IWD, and Flower Shops Network is donating hand crafted floral designs to female focused charities that will be participating in Women’s Day events, raffles, auctions, give-aways, etc.  We realise it’s not much but as a progressive company with an active equal opportunities program, we want to help out and support these amazing charities in any way we can in recognition of all the great work they achieve, and the many lives that they touch. You too can get involved with IWD or simply show support with a simple donation on the website.

Although not a charity itself the IWD homepage can direct you to many charities’ or non-profits that work for the advancement of women and young girls. Even the smallest donation will help forge women’s equality and address inequality by supporting the important work they do every day. Some of the global charitable groups worth mentioning are:

International Women's Day fundraising for charity - WAGGGS

Image Source: International Women's Day

World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS) - Supporting over 10 million girls across 152 countries WAGGGS is the world’s largest international youth association dedicated to helping girls and young women.


Image Source: Womankind Worldwide

Womankind Worldwide – promotes and supports women’s right organisations and movements enabling equal rights to women and allowing girls to grow and thrive without fear of abuse or sexual violence.

Image Source: Worldwide | Dress for Success

Dress for Success – empowering women to achieve economic independence and helping them thrive in the workplace through a network of professional help, support and training.


A short history of IWD

The true history of the first IWD is a little cloudy but it is thought that there were a few dress rehearsals and dry-runs from 1909-1911 before cementing a more permanent position in 1912. The early roots of IWD were socialist in nature with many European countries protesting workers rights, especially womens rights to work, to training and equality in general.

In 1913 the date of March 8th was chosen as the permenant date for IWD and remains so till this day. 1914 saw women expressing solidarity and campaigning against the war and there was a march in London from Bow to Trafalgar Square in support of women's sufforage. The well known suffrogete, Sylvia Pankhurst was arrested by police outside Charring Cross train station whilst on her way to give a speech at Trafalgar Square in support of women's right to vote. 

A few countries honoured Women’s Day until the 1970s when the UN officially recognised it as a holiday and allocated March 8th as IWD, putting it firmly and finally on the international calendar. During the 70s and 80s IWD was much more a day of activism, with protests, marches and sit-ins raising awareness for such issues as economic equal opportunity, equal pay, subsidised child care and violence against women than its younger sibling is these days.

In more recent times

Each year IWD has a theme, this year’s theme is "Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow" with the hashtag  #BreakTheBias, focusing on the fact that whether intentional or unconscious, gender bias is making it tough for women to get ahead in life. People need to be made aware of how bias is affecting many women on a daily basis and it needs to stop in order to give more women an equal chance. The UK is host to a plethora of activities, seminars, workshops and talks this Women’s Day, so show some support by seeing how you can get involved in your local area by checking out there IWD 2022 calendar.

In previous years their themes have tackled such raw subjects as; Women in prison, Displaced women, Sexual violence in   conflict zones and Women in leadership, all worthy of serious acknowledgement, praise and support.

Although not everyone is a supporter….

It’s not over yet

In Tehran March 4th, 2007 police beat hundreds of women and men for just planning an IWD rally resulting with the imprisonment of dozens of women held in solitary confinement for days. More serious community members were released after going on hunger strike for 15 days.

Tahrir Square, Cairo, Egypt 2007 saw thousands of men come to harass not support the women who had gathered there to stand up for their rights, whilst the military and police just stood around laughing and did nothing to stop the men or protect the women.

More recently, just a couple of years ago in 2020, a women’s march in Islamabad, Pakistan was cancelled due to crowds stoning the marchers, claiming it was un-Islamic. Whilst police in Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan had to arrest dozens of masked men who attacked the women marchers whilst celebrating IWD in the streets.

In this day and age such prehistoric attitudes to women are beyond unacceptable and it’s the actions listed above which prove how much we need IWD and the global awareness that it brings each year, now more than ever. It hurts me to think that such attitudes still exist and makes me feel ashamed to be a man.

It boggles the mind to think about such harsh realities whilst sipping a latte in Starbucks a million miles away from so much gender based pain and atrocity and yet it goes on day after day. Maybe skip tomorrow’s coffee and make a much needed donation instead?

IWD is so important. Please this year do what you can for struggling women and help raise them up to a more equal standing and break the bias.

It’s not all doom and gloom!

Many countries around the world now celebrate IWD as a public holiday including, Afghanistan, China, Russia and the Ukraine and although not a public holiday just yet, in many more countries it is still widely observed.

Regardless of holiday status, in a lot of countries it is still customary for men to give female loved ones, colleagues and friends flowers or small gifts. In other countries, such as Bulgaria and Romania, it is seen as an equivalent to Mother’s Day where children give flowers and gifts to mothers, aunts and grandmothers. Whereas in Italy men give women associates yellow mimosas, a tradition that dates back to 1947 and in France IWD is celebrated across the nation and is known as Journee Internationale Des Femmes.

So every year the IWD movement gets a little bit bigger, gains a few more supporters and is able to help more women and girls across the globe because of people like you helping female focused charitable organisations to grow and develop new programs and projects.

"The story of women's struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist, nor to any one organization, but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights."  - Gloria Steinem

IWD is not country, organisation nor group specific. No one NGO, Charity, Government, Women’s network or media outlet is solely responsible for IWD. The day belongs to all groups collectively everywhere.

So this year do what you can for the women of the world and make IWD your day to do something special.