You are here: Home

International Women's Day 2010

Adjust font size:

International Women’s Day March 8 is also known as the United Nations (UN) Day for Women’s Rights and International Peace. It has its roots in the international labour, socialist, and peace movements that were active early in the 20th century. It is celebrated in many countries around the world. It is a day when women are recognized for their achievements without regard to divisions, whether national, ethnic, linguistic, cultural, economic or political. It is an occasion for looking back on past struggles and accomplishments, and more importantly, for looking ahead to the untapped potential and opportunities that await future generations of women.


On March 8, 1857, women working in clothing and textile factories (called 'garment workers') in New York City staged a protest march against inhumane working conditions and low wages. Their ranks were broken by the police. Two years later these women formed their first labour union to try and protect themselves and gain some basic rights in the workplace. On March 8, 1908, a rally in New York City demanded shorter work hours, better pay, voting rights and an end to child labour. They adopted the slogan "Bread and Roses", with bread symbolizing economic security and roses a better quality of life.

1910 Copenhagen, the Socialist International conference proposed a Women's Day to honour the movement for women's rights and to assist in achieving universal suffrage for women. This resulted in International Women's Day being marked for the first time in Europe (March 19, 1911) where more than one million women and men attended rallies. In addition to the right to vote and to hold public office, they demanded the right to work, to vocational training and to an end to discrimination on the job.

The International Women’s Day date was moved to March 8 in 1913.

IWD Themes

Hundreds of events occur not just on this day but throughout March to mark the economic, political and social achievements of women. Organisations, governments and women's groups around the world choose different themes each year that reflect global and local gender issues. Some years have seen global IWD themes honoured around the world, while in other years groups have preferred to 'localise' their own themes to make them more specific and relevant.

THEME: So while many people may think there is one global theme each year, this is not always correct. It is completely up to each country and group as to what appropriate theme they select.

Below are some of the global United Nation themes used for International Women's Day to date:

- 2010: Equal rights, equal opportunities: Progress for all

- 2009: Women and men united to end violence against women and girls

- 2008: Investing in Women and Girls

- 2007: Ending Impunity for Violence against Women and Girls

- 2006: Women in decision-making - 2005: Gender Equality Beyond

- 2005: Building a More Secure Future

- 2004: Women and HIV/AIDS

- 2003: Gender Equality and the Millennium Development Goals

- 2002: Afghan Women Today: Realities and Opportunities

- 2001: Women and Peace: Women Managing Conflicts

- 2000: Women Uniting for Peace

- 1999: World Free of Violence against Women

- 1998: Women and Human Rights

- 1997: Women at the Peace Table

- 1996: Celebrating the Past, Planning for the Future

- 1975: First IWD celebrated by the United Nations


Related News & Photos