International Women's Day 2013

Clara Zetkin and Käte Duncker

March 8th was the 102nd International Women's Day. It was called for by Clara Zetkin, the Leader of the German Socialist Women's Movement, in Copenhagen at a meeting of the Second International Socialist Women's Conference, after the Americans had already held two annual days of protest. Zetkin and Käte Duncker forced the conference delegates to come to a decision, an international women's day was decreed, and it was celebrated for the first time on 19 March in Denmark, Germany, Austria, and Switzerland.

Today's date originates with the Russian revolution when the women and wives of workers, soldiers, and peasants participated in a general strike on 23 February 1917 according to the Julian calendar (the 8th of March.) In 1921, then, according to one tradition, the Bulgarian delegation at the Second International Conference of Communist Women in Moscow requested that 8 March be named International Women's Day. Another tradition has Lenin himself make that request.

During the Cold War, then, misinformation was distributed because Western countries like the U.S. did not want to admit to a Communist origin of the international women's day, so one spread the erroneous information of an uprising of women textile workers on 8 March 1857 in New York. In the 1980, women historians like Liliane Kandel and Temma Kaplan debunked this myth, however.

Women are still celebrating on 8 March--and still protesting!

Further Reading and Viewing:
Brauchen wir noch einen internationalen Frauentag? (PDF)
Brauchen wir noch einen internationalen Frauentag? (Deutsche Welle-Video)
Was Frauen von der Zukunft erwarten (PDF)
International Women's Day (EU Parliament-Video)