Six Interesting Facts About International Women's Day

It is a day that belongs to everyone and everywhere. It presents an occasion to embrace equity among all women in the world.

By: THURSD. | 06-03-2024 | 9 min read
Flowers Special Days
​Interesting Facts About International Women’s Day

Annually observed on March 8th, International Women's Day is a global celebration of the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. This day also presents an opportunity for promoting gender equality and women's rights worldwide. It celebrates women's achievements, advocates for gender equality, and reflects on the challenges that still lie ahead.

Under the campaign theme 'Inspire Inclusion', the 2024 celebrations focus on investing in women’s economic inclusion. Despite the efforts put in, concerns continue to be raised about some issues that affect women. According to the UK Parliament’s House of Lords Library, economic disparities persist between men and women globally. Women, also, face lower pay, higher levels of informal employment, and more unpaid care work than men. 

So, here’s what you need to know about this day.

Origins of International Women's Day

The roots of International Women's Day can be traced back to the early 20th century, amid the growing movements for women's suffrage and labor rights. Its first near-similar observance was on February 28, 1909, in New York City, where women rallied for better working conditions and the right to vote. 


Interesting Facts About International Women's Day
Mimosa flowers are often associated with International Women's Day.
Photo by Vika_Glitter.


In 1910, Clara Zetkin, a prominent German women's rights advocate, proposed establishing an annual Women's Day to advocate for women's rights globally. The proposal was unanimously approved by the attendees, leading to the inaugural celebration.

Clara, the then chairwoman of the Social Democratic Party's Women's Office in Germany, presented the idea of a global International Women's Day so that people all over the world could celebrate at the same time. The first International Women's Day was held on March 19, 1911, with over a million participating from Germany, Switzerland, Austria, and Denmark.

In modern context, the day was marked for the first time by the United Nations in 1975 and officially recognized in 1977. In essence, this day’s commemoration emerged from the activism and activities of labor movements at the turn of the twentieth century in North America and across Europe


Interesting Facts About International Women's Day
Clara Zetkin, a then prominent German women's rights advocate.
Photo by @clara_zetkin


And since those early years, it has assumed a new global dimension for women in developed and developing countries. The growing international women's movement, which has been supported by global U.N. women's conferences, has helped make the commemoration a rallying point to build support for women's rights and participation in the political and economic arenas.

Interesting Facts About International Women's Day

Taking a moment to fully understand what this day is all about and its history, plays an important role in its celebration. Here, therefore, are some key and interesting facts about the day and its global commemoration.


Interesting Facts About International Women's Day
International Women's Day flowers on sale in Russia.
Photo by Dmitry Korobeinikov / Дмитрий Коробейников on Wikimedia Commons


The Official Date of March 8, and Women’s Right to Vote in Russia

While International Women's Day was initially celebrated on various dates, it was eventually standardized to March 8. On February 23, 1917, thousands of female Russian factory workers started a bread riot that soon turned into a massive demonstration throughout Petrograd (current St. Petersburg).

The Russian women’s demonstration was in response to severe food shortage, World War I, and a campaign for gender equality. This uprising, known as the ‘February Revolution’ (according to the Julian calendar in use at the time), began on February 23rd. However, by the Gregorian calendar, it was March 8th, which became synonymous with International Women's Day.

During the protest march, Tsar Nicholas II, the country's leader at the time, was not impressed and authorized General Khabalov of the Petrograd Military District to put an end to the protests using any means possible. Yet the women were not dissuaded and maintained their dissent, which led the Tsar to abdicate just days later. Later, the interim administration granted women the right to vote in Russia.


Interesting Facts About International Women's Day
Thousands of Russian women demonstrated in St. Petersburg in 1917.
Photo by @clara_zetkin


Today, the day is celebrated in numerous countries worldwide, crossing borders, cultures, and ideologies. It is recognized as an official holiday in many nations, including Russia, China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Afghanistan, Cuba, Vietnam, Uganda, Mongolia, Georgia, Laos, Cambodia, Armenia, Belarus, Montenegro, Russia, and Ukraine, among others.

Many other countries just celebrate it without necessarily observing it as an official holiday. To them, it presents an opportunity to honor women's achievements, raise awareness about gender inequality, and inspire further progress.


Interesting Facts About International Women's Day
Demonstrations for women's rights in Mexico City.
Photo by Mike González


Each Year Has a Different Annual Theme

Each year, International Women's Day adopts a specific theme to focus on pressing issues affecting womenfolk globally. These themes provide a framework for events, discussions, and initiatives. Recent themes have included ‘Choose to Challenge’ (2021), encouraging individuals to challenge gender bias and inequality, and ‘Each for Equal’ (2020), highlighting the importance of collective action for gender equality.

Other recent themes - as per the UN - were ‘DigitALL: Innovation and Technology for Gender Equality’ (2023) which recognized and celebrated women and girls who are championing the advancement of transformative technology and digital education, and ‘Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow’ (2022) which recognized the crucial contribution around the world of women and girls in climate adaptation and mitigation, and resilience building.


Interesting Facts About International Women's Day
Inspire Inclusion, the 2024 International Women’s Day and Mother’s Day theme.
Photo by @internationalwomensday_global


The #EachforEqual campaign, launched in 2020, also, emphasized the role of individuals in creating a gender-equal world, promoting the idea that small actions and efforts by each person can collectively lead to significant change. The campaign encouraged everyone to take responsibility and actively contribute to nurturing gender equality in their personal and professional lives.

International Women’s Day as a Joint Celebration With Mother’s Day

In some countries, such as Serbia, Albania, Bulgaria, Romania, Macedonia, and Uzbekistan, the two festivals that celebrate women - International Women’s Day and Mother’s Day - are merged and celebrated on the same day, in just the same way that Mother's Day doubles as a form of women's appreciation day. 


Interesting Facts About International Women's Day
Celebrating the achievements of women.
Photo by @internationalwomensday_global


The celebrations give people – especially children – an opportunity to give small presents to their mothers and grandmothers. In the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic, huge Soviet-style celebrations were normally held annually. The celebrations are symbolic of affection and respect for all womenfolk.

International Women's Day’s Flower Power

In many countries, it is customary to give women flowers on International Women's Day. The type of flower varies across regions, but the most common choice that cuts across is the yellow mimosa, which represents sensitivity and strength. 

The tradition of gifting women yellow mimosa flowers on International Women's Day can be traced back to Italy. In the early 20th century, Italian feminists chose the mimosa as a symbol of the women's rights movement. They selected this flower because it blooms in early March, coinciding with International Women's Day. The mimosa's bright yellow color represents vitality, sensitivity, and resilience, all of which are qualities associated with women's strength and femininity.


​Interesting Facts About International Women's Day
Mimosa's bright yellow color represents women's vitality, sensitivity, and resilience.
Photo by Vika_Glitter


Moreover, yellow mimosa flowers were preferred as a symbol for International Women's Day due to their accessibility and affordability. Mimosa trees are plentiful in Italy, and their flowers can be easily obtained during the early spring season. This made them an ideal choice for gifting to women from all walks of life, regardless of their socioeconomic status.

Later, the flower's popularity spread beyond Italy to other countries, including Russia. In Russia, the mimosa is considered a symbol of respect and appreciation for women. It has, accordingly, become a customary gift to present women with bouquets of yellow mimosa flowers on this day.

Over time, the tradition of gifting yellow mimosa flowers on International Women's Day has become ingrained in the cultural fabric of other countries and passed down through generations.


​Interesting Facts About International Women's Day
International Women's Day also features gifting flowers to women in one's life.
Photo by Leeloo The Florist


The Color Purple, as Well as Green and White

Purple is often associated with International Women's Day because it has historically been used as a symbolic color for women's rights and gender equality. This color has a long-standing connection to the women's suffrage movement, which fought for their right to vote in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

During that time, suffragettes in the U.K. and the U.S. used purple, alongside white and green, as their official colors. Purple was chosen to represent loyalty and dignity, and it became a powerful symbol of women's liberation and their demand for equal rights.

In recent years, as International Women's Day gained prominence globally, purple has been adopted as a unifying color to represent the empowerment of women. It is a visual cue to the ongoing struggle for gender equality and the achievements made by women throughout history.


​Interesting Facts About International Women's Day
Purple has continually been adopted as a unifying color to represent the empowerment of women.
Photo by audree


The use of purple during International Women's Day events, campaigns, and social media initiatives helps create a cohesive and recognizable brand for the movement. It also honors the legacy of the suffragettes and their fight for women's rights.

While purple is commonly associated with International Women's Day, the movement for gender equality is inclusive and diverse, incorporating women from different backgrounds, cultures, and experiences.

Not Just Women, Everyone Everywhere Can Support the Cause

International Women's Day goes beyond the structures that define boundaries, and affiliations. It is not confined to a specific country, group, or organization. Since its inception, it has nurtured a deep sense of solidarity worldwide. It embodies the values of community, connection, and collaborative action. It is a day of inclusivity, belonging to all groups universally.


Interesting Facts About International Women's Day
It is not just for women, everyone everywhere can support the IWD cause.
Photo by Quirinale on Wikimedia Commons


Over its long and storied history, the day has been adopted by diverse groups across the globe, each observing it in a manner that is relevant and significant within their own unique contexts and circumstances. Supporting it has, therefore, never devolved into a contest between groups or organizations, each vying to assert their own vision of the most appropriate course of action.

The eclectic and inclusive nature of feminism means that all actions aimed at promoting gender equality are not only lauded but also considered valid and deserving of regard. 

As Gloria Steinem, a renowned suffragette, journalist, and activist, once outspokenly remarked:

"The story of women's struggle for equality belongs to no single activist, nor to any one organization, but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights." 


Interesting Facts About International Women's Day
Photo by Nyoman Suartawan


The journey toward gender equality is, then, not the sole responsibility of a single individual or group; it is a shared effort. Each voice and each action contributes to collective progress.


Feature image by Vika_Glitter, header image by Quirinale on Wikimedia Commons.



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