What is International Women’s Day?

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What is International Women’s Day?

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LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 05: Women rally during the International Women's Day March and Rally on March 5, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. The rally is a lead up to the annual International Women's Day on March 8. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

Wednesday is International Women's Day, an annual event that arrives with a heightened sense of relevancy this year.  

Now observed around the world every March 8, the roots of the day that recognizes women’s achievements and issues lie in an early 20th century American labor struggle. In 1908, the International Ladies Garment Workers Union went on strike to protest poor working conditions and low pay. The following year, on Feb. 28, 1909, the first "National Woman's Day" was designated in their honor by the Socialist Party of America.  

(There'll be another strike of sorts this year, as organizers of January's Women's March are following up on that massive outpouring by staging a nationwide "Day Without A Woman" protest on Wednesday).  

The concept spread overseas in 1910 when an International Women's Conference was held in Denmark as part of a meeting of the Second International, an organization of socialist and labor parties. An annual International Woman's Day (IWD) was proposed as way to promote equal rights for women, including the right to vote. Over a million people in Europe took part in the first such event on March 19, 1911 (In 1913, "following discussions," the permanent date was set at March 8, according to the official International Women's Day web site).  

What You Need To Know: International Women’s Day

The United Nations first celebrated International Women's Day in 1975, which significantly raised its global profile. Two years later, the U.N. General Assembly adopted a resolution proclaiming a United Nations Day for Women’s Rights and International Peace on March 8.  

Linked by a signature color — purple, in honor of the women's suffrage movement — International Women's Day is nonetheless marked in a wideranging fashion throughout the U.S. and around the world. In all, "thousands of events,"comprising everything from conferences, exhibitions and marches to festivals, concerts and fun runs, according to the official IWD web site, where you can search for specific events by location.  

This year alone, International Women's Day has two themes: The U.N.'s is "Women in the Changing World of Work: Planet 50-50 by 2030." The IWD web site's is pithier — #BeBoldForChange — and it’s  backed up by resources for running one's own "Be Bold" campaign in the real world and on social media. 

 

It looks like the Women's March organizers have already gotten the message. This IWD, they're encouraging women everywhere to take part in the "Day Without a Woman" protest by wearing red, taking the day off from "paid and unpaid labor" and avoiding shopping anywhere except at "small-, women- and minority-owned" businesses.

Their web site even includes an "out-of-office" auto-response email template as well as one for a letter to the boss explaining participants' absence.

Here are some International Women’s Day events taking place in Atlanta on Wednesday:

World Affairs Council of Atlanta International Women’s Day Breakfast. 7:30 a.m. $20 - $30. The Commerce Club, 191 Peachtree St. NE Atlanta. www.wacatlanta.org

EMGN International Women’s Day Summit: Her Story Matters. 8 a.m. $20 - $45. The Gathering Spot, 384 Northyards Boulevard NW, Atlanta. www.emgnlife.com

Women’s Chamber of Commerce International Women’s Day luncheon and roundtable discussion, “Where Do We Go From Here?” 11 a.m. $45 - $55. Swan Coach House, 3130 Slaton Dr NW,  Atlanta. www.facebook.com/atlantawomenchamber

International Women’s Day with Women in the Atlanta Tech Scene. 7 p.m. $10. The Loudermilk Center, 40 Courtland St. NE, Atlanta. www.eventbrite.com

International A Day Without Women Strike, March & Information Meeting. 5:30 p.m. Candler Park. Find more information here.

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