You’ve probably heard that March 8th is International Women’s Day, but did you know that long before the chocolates and mimosas, the holiday actually evolved as a movement for women’s rights? Honoring International Women’s Day (March 8th)

As we get ready to honor our mothers, grandmothers, daughters, and girl-friends, consider the struggles and effort it took for us to get here:


The Socialist Party of America declares February 28 as the first celebration of a National Women’s Day. At this point the day is only recognized in the United States and pretty much limited to the 15,000 or so women rallying for better working conditions.


International Women’s Day is honored for the first time in several European countries and Australia, as well as the U.S. More than one million men and women attend rallies campaigning for women’s rights to work, vote and hold public office.


Russian women observe their first International Women’s Day in 1913. One year later women across Europe hold rallies to express women’s solidarity and campaign against the war.


Russian women begin striking for “bread and peace” in response to the deaths of over 2 million Russian soldiers during World War I. Shortly after the Czar’s abdication, the provisional government of the newly formed Soviet Union grant women the right to vote. Coincidentally, while the date of the first strike was February 23 according to the Julian calendar in use at the time in Russia, the Gregorian calendar used everywhere else actually marks March 8th.


The rise in popularity of socialist movements propel March 8th International Women’s Day into a global day of recognition and celebration of women. In the Soviet Union, and subsequent independent republics, March 8th becomes an official public holiday celebrated with close friends and family, typically with a festive meal and champagne.

2000 and beyond

A new millennium ushers in significant changes and shifts in attitude toward women’s rights and equality. International Women’s Day is celebrated around the world with sweets, gifts and flowers, while its political roots fade into the background. It’s worth noting that today, March 8th around the world holds an equivalent status to the popular U.S. Mother’s Day holiday.