On Tuesday 8th March, International Women’s Day (http://www.internationalwomensday.com) was celebrated around the world. Flowers or other presents were given by family, friends co-workers and by companies, National Holidays were observed, big and small events took place and women were the focus of attention (which we all like!). There is no standard way of celebrating it and its importance varies from country to country. In Eastern Europe and parts of Asia particularly, it is considered as a major annual event and numerous initiatives are carried out, serving as a source of inspiration for many people. In many of the countries that form part of the Action Global network it is a Public Holiday, such as Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia and Ukraine. But, did you know that the first International Women’s Day took place on 19th March 1911 in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland? Over a million men and women took to the streets to campaign for women’s rights.
In fact, its origins lie slightly earlier than that, in 1908 when 15,000 women marched in New York to demand fairer treatment at work. The following year, the first National Woman’s Day took place in the United States. Then, in 1910 at an International Conference of Working Women in Copenhagen, the leader of the Women’s Office for the Social Democratic Party in Germany suggested the idea of an annual International Women’s Day. This was approved and, to this day, it is still celebrated. This year, it has taken on increased significance as it is the hundredth anniversary and countries that normally don’t do much, such as the UK, are getting in on the action.
So, what do people do? In Bulgaria, men give flowers, or chocolates, or other presents to women, both at home and in the workplace. Children may give their mothers flowers and usually after work people celebrate with their family and friends. In Ukraine, it is a big Bank Holiday and at Action’s offices in Kyiv, they came up with a creative way to wish their clients and suppliers a happy Women’s Day. Tiramisu is a very popular desert there, but the original Italian ingredients are hard to find. Most of Action Ukraine’s client contacts are female and we sent our female clients and suppliers a box, which had a note sending them best wishes for International Women’s Day and added, “… as beautiful women, you are being sent one of the finest desserts, but to enjoy its pleasure, you have to carry out some Action….” Underneath was the recipe for Tiramisu and all the ingredients. Action Ukraine received many calls telling them how it had made their day!
In Russia, according to Action’s office in Russia, “It was perfect, the men in the office gave us beautiful flowers the day before, there were flowers everywhere and it was a sunny day. It was like spring was beginning!” The office sent flowers to its female clients and the day itself was a Bank Holiday. People generally like to spend time with their families and friends but there are also a lot of big events and concerts. At the same time, it is seen as a celebration of the past and of women today.
Slovenia, also celebrated and one of Action’s clients gave out around 20,000 chocolate bars to female customers at filling stations, with the chance to win spa weekends and other giveaways. In Kazakhstan, just a couple of days before International Women’s Day, the first Women’s Congress of Kazakhstan took place, with prominent women from across Kazakhstan.
So what did you do for International Women’s Day?