The word “women” has evolved from “wifmann” which originally means “female human”. Women are beautiful, gentle, caring, motherly yet powerful. They are diligent in serving and meeting the needs of the society and devote their life to the people they love. The gracefulness of a woman cannot be explained by words but can only be felt in the form of love, affection, and nurture.
A writer had once said, “Women are the real architects of the society” and the statement holds true in many aspects. Women have created revolution across the world and their contribution to social change and awareness had been immense. History speaks for itself regarding the contributions made by women over the course of time.
Even Gandhiji once said, “Intellectually, mentally, and spiritually, the woman is equivalent to a male and she can participate in every activity.”
Origin of Women’s day
Women’s day is being celebrated from over a century now. Although, the exact start date is not known but it is said that it all started in the year 1908 in the US, wherein 15,000 women marched through New York City demanding voting rights, better pay and shorter working hours.
A year later, the first National Woman’s Day was observed in the US on February 28, in accordance with a declaration by the Socialist Party of America. In 1910, a woman called Clara Zetkin – leader of the ‘women’s office’ for the Social Democratic Party in Germany – tabled the idea of an International Women’s Day. She suggested that every country should celebrate women on one day every year to push for their demands.
A conference of more than 100 women from 17 countries agreed to her suggestion and IWD was formed. In 1911, it was celebrated for the first time in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland on March 19. In 1913, it was decided to transfer IWD to March 8, and it has been celebrated on that day ever since. The day was only recognized by the United Nations in 1975, but ever since it has created a theme each year for the celebration.
Significance of Women’s day
International women’s day (IWD) is celebrated every year on 8th of March as a tribute to the entire female community across the globe. This is not just another day but is actually celebrated to appreciate the remarkable contribution of women to our society. The day honors the life, grit, and determination of women. Not only men but women have also lodged legendary works to their names which have been written in golden words in the world history. History is replete with examples of courageous women like Lakshmibai, Indira Gandhi, Hellen Keller and so on.
IWD helps to remember the forgotten heroic acts of women and provides an opportunity to enjoy all the music, literature, scientific discoveries and so much more that have been as a result of a woman, and often never credited. Despite all the reforms that have taken place in the society, there still exists a question on the rights of women.
IWD also aims to provide a platform for women to stay safe and discuss their problems openly in the society. The day aims to help nations worldwide eliminate discrimination against women. It also focuses on helping women gain full and equal participation in global development. A forum is created for women on IWD where they can address all the problems related to their work, education, and health.
“The story of women’s struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organization but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights,“ says world-renowned feminist Gloria Steinem. Thus International Women’s Day is all about unity, celebration, reflection, advocacy, and action – whatever that looks like globally at a local level.
The International Women’s Day features the symbol of Venus in purple and white. The symbol of Venus is the symbol of being a female. Various messages and slogans regarding women are being publicized during IWD.
IWD Theme 2017
International Women’s Day is celebrated annually using a particular theme. A powerful message is being delivered to the society regarding women. The theme of the International Women’s Day celebration of 2015 was “Empowering Women – Empowering Humanity: Picture It!” (By UN), “Re-thinking Women’s Empowerment and Gender Equality in 2015 and beyond’ (by UNESCO) and “breaking through” (by Manchester City Council). Last year’s theme was i.e. of 2016 was “Make it Happen”. This theme was very much influential in the society for the upliftment of women.
The theme for IWD 2017 is “Be Bold For Change” – encouraging people to step up and take groundbreaking action to help drive gender equality. This influential message would surely provoke many women around the world, especially in the countries where women are not given the same status as men.
Activities held on IWD
IWD is held internationally and is widely accepted in almost all the countries. On this day, powerful women across the nations are being invited as guests of honour and speakers at various events. The messages were given at these events often focus on various themes such as innovation, the portrayal of women in the media, or the importance of education and career opportunities.
It is also celebrated across all the educational institutions such as schools, colleges etc and even in various government and private institutions. Female teachers are given gifts by their students, parents by their children, sisters by their brother, daughter by their fathers and etc. Various activities are being conducted to show respect towards women and their contribution to the society. Many workplaces make a special mention about International Women’s Day through internal newsletters or notices, or by handing out promotional material focusing on the day. In many countries, the 8th march is being declared as a holiday while some have declared it as a holiday for women.
Women in India
India is the only country where a woman is being worshiped as Sakthi [Strength], Saraswathy [Knowledge] and Lakshmi [Prosperity]. A woman in India are considered to Goddess and is the original home of Mother Goddess. No other country in the world shows the same respect to women like our country does.
Our country is referred to as “Bharat Mata” which clearly shows the influence of women in India. The slogan “Bharat Mata Ki Jai” is clearly a praise of our Mother India which nurtures the souls of Indians. The strength which Indian women have provided to our society is beyond comparison to anything in the entire universe. Indian women have emerged and managed to fly like a bird despite all the social and cultural barriers.
India is very fortunate to have many great women like – Annie Besent (First women president of Indian national Congress), Kalpana Chawla (First Indian women to go to space), Vijayalakshmi Pandit (First Indian Woman President of UN General Assembly) and much more. It is the said that the courage of these legendary women has led to a revolution among women in India.
Celebrating Women’s day in India
IWD in India is celebrated on March 8 in order to honor a woman in the Indian society. Efforts are being made on the day in order to support women in India. The government is also making significant efforts to improve conditions for women and girls, including creating a large-scale girls’ education program that provides schools and support for girls in rural areas and has already helped to narrow the gender gap.
On this day, determined steps are being taken to protect young girls and women from harmful cultural practices like early marriage, and from all forms of violence. Various TV advertisements, promotions, campaigns, and curricula are being hosted by various organizations. Digital revolutionize has been a plus point in spreading the awareness of women empowerment in India, especially in the rural areas.
Targeted efforts are being made to promote women’s participation in economic life. Achieving gender equality is also being concentrated in order to expand women rights especially in the rural areas.
National Women’s Day in India
National Women’s day of India was observed on 13th Feb 2014. This day is observed on the date of birth of India’s first women governor Sarojini Naidu. Sarojini Naidu was born on 13th Feb 1879 and died on 2 March 1949. This was the 135th birth anniversary of Sarojini Naidu.
Understanding a Woman
Women are the most important beings on this earth. Even the earth is referred to us as the “mother earth.” The ability to nurture life makes a woman the most powerful and strongest being. The different roles played by women as a dutiful wife, obedient daughter, caring mother or adoring sister is very important in every individual’s life.
This is the only reason we celebrate the International Women’s Day in India so that the rights of women are being protected and spread the message of “Being Women” throughout the society.