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What is International Women’s Day?

Thursday 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.  

FLASHBACK PHOTOS: A photographic look at women's history in Georgia

(There was another strike of sorts last year, as organizers of  the initial Women's March in January 2017 followed up on that massive outpouring by staging a nationwide "Day Without A Woman" protest on March 8. 

This year, the one-year anniversary of that historic march was marked with “Power to the Polls” events held on Jan. 20th around the country. In Atlanta, thousands of women marched and rallied at The Bakery to pledge they would build on a movement by running for office and registering people to vote).  

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Thousands rallied at the Power to the Polls event in Atlanta on Jan. 20, 2018. AJC/Greg Bluestein

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.  

An unidentified participant raises her hand in support of a speaker during International Women's Day  on Wednesday, March 8, 2017, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski) (David Zalubowski/AP)

Each year, International Women's Day has a unifying theme. Acutally, last year it had two: The U.N.'s is "Women in the Changing World of Work: Planet 50-50 by 2030." The IWD’s was pithier — #BeBoldForChange — and it was backed up by resources for running one's own "Be Bold" campaign in the real world and on social media. 

It worked. Members of the U.S. women’s national hockey team adopted the slogan last spring during their historic campaign for equal pay with members of the men’s squad. Many of the women who posted #BeBoldForChange on their Twitter and Instagram posts were on the team that won the gold medal last month at the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea.

  Here’s star player Hilary Knight’s tweet last March:

 This year’s theme is #PressForProgress toward parity in terms of pay, hiring, leadership and a host of other issues. And there may be no more appropriate time for it as women have spoken up as never before in recent months everywhere from Hollywood to the media and political worlds.

“With global activism for women's equality fuelled by movements like #MeToo, #TimesUp and more,” the official web site of International Women’s Day states, “there is a strong global momentum striving for gender parity.”

Here in Atlanta, the day will be marked pretty much around the clock with events ranging from a gathering of women in tech to an all-female “sleep out” to raise awareness and funds -- there’s even the release of a special all women-brewed beer. 

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Here’s info on those and other International Women’s Day events taking place in Atlanta on Thursday:

World Affairs Council of Atlanta International Women’s Day Breakfast: #PressForProgress. A discussion on changes within male-dominated industries. CEO Claire Arnold, 8 a.m. $30 council members, $45 non-members. Westin Buckhead Hotel 3391 Peachtree Rd NE, Atlanta,. www.wacatlanta.org

Women’s Chamber of Commerce International Women’s Day luncheon and conversation, “2018 State of the Woman.” Guest speakers include former Georgia House Minority Leader and gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams and Theia Washington-Smith, Founding Executive Director for the City of Atlanta's Women's Entrepreneurship Initiative.  11 a.m. $75. 103 West, 103 West Paces Ferry Rd.,  Atlanta.   www.facebook.com/atlantawomenchamber

She Leads ATL: International Women’s Day Panel. WeWork marks International Women's Day and launches She Leads, a global initiative and event series dedicated to advancing gender equality in the workplace. 6 p.m.  WeWork, Colony Square, 1175 Peachtree St. NE, Atlanta. sheleadsatl.splashthat.com

3rd Annual Women Who Code Atlanta International Women’s Day Celebration. Hear from local women in tech groups and involved in the Atlanta tech scene. 7 p.m. (doors open at 6:30 p.m.)  $10. The Loudermilk Center, 40 Courtland St. NE, Atlanta. www.eventbrite.com

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Sleep Out: Women Unite. 7 p.m. Thursday - 6:30 a.m. Friday. Covenant House, 1559 Johnson Road NW, Atlanta. www.covenanthousega.org.  An “all-female sleep out” timed to International Women’s Day with a goal of raising $50,000 in funds for Atlanta’s homeless and trafficked women and youth. Read more about it here from the AJC’s Becca Godwin. 

Lady Marmalade Release/Lean In Event. 4 p.m. - 9 p.m. Monday Night Brewing, 670 Trabert Ave. NW, Atlanta. Cap off International Women’s Day with this combo event featuring the release of Lady Marmalade, a Grisette brewed by the women working at Monday Night, and a chance to talk with folks from the local chapter of Lean, including their Linked In specialist who’ll consult on optimizing profiles. www.facebook.com/LeanInATL

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