International Women’s Day

So, as the title says, 8 March is International Women’s Day.  This isn’t something we celebrate in the UK but I had heard of it thanks to the Mad Russian (shout out to Olga!) so was peripherally aware of it without really knowing what it represents. 

I first became aware today was slightly different when we got to school (not late for once) and one of the other parents brought the two female teachers a flower each.  Watching this handover I thought, uh oh, I’m making a social faux pas here!  I had no idea why he was giving them flowers but suspected I was deficient in some way.  Ah well, I’m foreign, what do I know?  Later, walking Emma through town on the way to see friends, I became aware that pretty much everyone we passed was holding flowers.  The women as recipients and the men presumably carrying them home for wives / girlfriends / mothers. 

Where’s my flowers?  Well, Alister is away on a convenient timed course so he’s off the hook (kind of).  So I thought I’d put aside the material rewards of the day (not that I had a choice) and dig into the whys and wherefores.

I was surprised to learn that the origins of this day were political.  IWD has been celebrated since the early 1900’s and stemmed from the need to address the oppression and inequality experienced by women at this time.  The idea of a day celebrating women and bringing their needs and issues to the forefront was first suggested in 1910 by Clara Zetkin in Copenhagen.  The day itself was first held in 1911 in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland on 19 March.  At the same time, rallies were held to highlight the issues raised and attended by a million people, both men and women.

As my good friend Olga will know, the first IWD observed in Russia was held in February, 1913 and thereafter the date was changed to 8 March, the date it is still observed.  Politically it has become a very important date and a chance for the issues that women still face in society to be raised and publicised.  On a larger scale rallies and marches are held but on a smaller scale, projects to help women around the world are also carried out.  A little closer to home (for me) there is a project on going in Glasgow to produce a blanket with 100 million stitches to represent the 100 million women who are affected by gender discrimination.

Check out the websites for more information on this important subject:

http://garterstitch100.posterous.com/pages/what-are-we-doing-and-why

http://www.internationalwomensday.com/about.asp

IWD is now an official holiday in Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, China (for women only), Cuba, Georgia, Guinea-Bissau, Eritrea, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Madagascar (for women only), Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Nepal (for women only), Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Vietnam and Zambia. The tradition sees men honouring their mothers, wives, girlfriends, colleagues, etc with flowers and small gifts. In some countries IWD has the equivalent status of Mother’s Day where children give small presents to their mothers and grandmothers. 

As for me, I did get a wonderful present.  Emma presented me with a beautifully made card when I picked her up from school.  So for my first IWD, I did pretty well Smile

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4 Comments

  1. Mad Russian said,

    03/10/2011 at 04:10

    Hey, thanks for this post! Really put me in this holiday’ spirit! It is hard to get in the mood when nobody here really knows about the occasion. But for me, even though it started politically, it is a beginning of the spring thing… In my family it was a big day always, filled with flowers and presents. We honour moms, sisters, grandmas, aunties, newborn girls even! So basically all ladies, however big or small.
    We had a little party at our place with mostly Russians and it was a traditional one as well, meaning boys got really drunk. For it is the tradition I’ll have you know! To present your woman with flowers and pressies, to give up your seat on public transport once a year and most definitely to get drunk during the celebration.)))
    But mostly I just remember that great feeling when you walk on the street and almost everybody is smiling and ladies look exceptionally pretty and their eyes simply sparkle. Maybe it is silly to have this happening once a year but pair it with starting spring and you get this special feeling that all will be alright and good things will follow!

    So Happy 8 March to you and Emma!!!

  2. 03/10/2011 at 16:41

    Lovely 🙂 Hope your eyes are sparking too
    xxx

  3. 03/10/2011 at 16:42

    Er, sparkling. They’d only be sparking if Maya was doing her ‘want it / don’t want it’ routine…

  4. 03/08/2012 at 08:24

    […] Good morning!  Regular readers may remember that last year, our first in BiH, we were taken by surprise one morning when we got to school to find all the parents giving the teachers flowers.  Being highly astute, with almost Holmes-esque  powers of deduction, we realised we were missing something important.  What was it?  It was, of course, International Women’s Day – see link to last year’s blog post: International Women’s Day 2011. […]


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