But how did it all start?
It all begun with Clara Zetkin. She first proposed the idea of International Women’s Day (IWD) at the second International Conference of Working Women in 1910. She was inspired in parts by the mass strikes and protests by women workers in the U.S. And she was a prominent German Marxist theorist, activist, and advocate for women’s rights and thus got nearly 11 countries to agree to her suggestion that every country should celebrate women on one day every year to push for their demands. And the next year, in 1911 Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland celebrated the first International Womens’ Day. Clara was a much-celebrated heroine in the German Democratic Republic (GDR), and in the 1950s nearly every major GDR city had a street named after her. She also featured on a ten mark banknote of the GDR.
From 1911 to 2016 the original goal of IWD – to achieve full gender equality for women the world – has still not been realized – maybe one day we will. While I don’t think we need tokenism to celebrate women only on one single day out of the 365 days, the context of IWD and the need for equality still exists and men and women both need to reiterate that every day and use all our resources together to achieve what women have been trying since the last century. Because we are all equal!