Every year on March 8th, International Women’s Day is celebrated around the world.
The day was first observed in 1911 as women took to the streets in Europe and North America to march for better work conditions and higher salaries. Now, a new theme is chosen each year based on contemporary issues and trends. For 2020, the theme is #EachforEqual, which focuses on how each person can help build a gender-equal world.
All in all, International Women’s Day (IWD) is a proud time when people—both men and women—come together to acknowledge the achievements of women and continue the fight for gender equality. Yet the ways people celebrate the day vary across countries and cultures. Let’s take a peek at some of the ways this holiday is celebrated.
International Women’s Day isn’t an official holiday in the United States, but many celebrations do take place. After all, the entire month of March has been deemed Women’s History Month and is dedicated to celebrating women.
On March 8th, many political rallies, government and corporate events and business conferences take place and bring women together from all walks of life. Plus, the President of the United States gives an official statement of recognition to honor American women’s accomplishments.
International Women’s Day is known as La Festa Della Donna in Italy. On this day, people commonly gift the women they love beautiful, yellow mimosa flowers as a symbolic gesture of love and female strength. You can also often find Italians making sponge cakes that are shaped like mimosa flowers and infused with citrus liqueur.
The UK takes a different approach to International Women’s Day celebrations. They use the day to call attention to issues impacting women. All kinds of events are held, such as panel talks, classes and charity events.
For the past two years, women in Spain have held a 24-hour strike to protest the gender pay gap, sexual discrimination in the workplace and domestic violence. The strikes encouraged women to stop working, attending class or buying products. Around six million workers took part in the strike in 2018 and marched all over Spain. The protest used the slogan “If we stop, the world stops” to show the world that women are an integral part of society.
In Russia, International Women’s Day is a public holiday. Men buy gifts for their wives, sisters and mothers. At work, women are often celebrated with parties, gifts and team lunches. And in schools, boys throw parties for the girls.
Things are done a little differently in Asia than in Europe or the United States.
The lucky women in Nepal get the day off from work because International Women’s Day is an official holiday. Women spend this time protesting in the streets for equal rights and calling for an end to the pay gap.
International Women’s Day is also a national holiday in China. It is similar to Valentine’s Day in the United States in that women are often spoiled with gifts from their loved ones. And, women could get a half-day off from work.
Argentina celebrates International Women’s Day in a variety of ways. It is similar to Italy in that women receive gifts and flowers from the people in their lives, but in addition, women spend the day protesting for gender equality, equal pay and social change.
Last year, Uruguay held one of the largest demonstrations in the country on IWD. Women waved flags and shouted slogans as they marched through the streets. As in other countries, they called for an end to the wage gap and gender violence.
Thousands of women march on International Women’s Day in Chile. A majority of women stay home from work, join rallies or wear red to show solidarity with the “Day Without Women” movement.
Last year, demonstrations were held in more than 40 cities in Brazil, with the largest taking place in Sao Paulo.
African countries Zambia, Burkina Faso, Uganda, Guinea-Bissau, Eritrea and Madagascar recognize International Women’s Day as an official holiday.
Every year, the government of Uganda chooses a theme to highlight, such as encouraging women’s empowerment in the workplace and recognizing the work of female police officers.
In Nigeria, people typically share pictures of women they admire on their social media channels. There are also some protests in the streets by women and organizations.
Rather than celebrating the official International Women’s Day, South Africa has a public holiday called National Women’s Day on August 9th. It commemorates when over 20,000 South African women participated in the anti-pass march. The day is spent honoring women who fought for equality and freedom.
As you can see, people around the world celebrate International Women’s Day in different ways. Some countries see it as a time to stand up for women’s rights and fight for equality, whereas others choose to spend the day showing women they are important with special treatment or gifts. Although countries’ means of celebrating vary, it’s important to recognize how International Women’s Day is a fantastic time to focus on the accomplishments of women around the globe.
How will you celebrate IWD? Check out some ideas here.