The History Of International Women’s Day

Today, March 8th is International Women’s
Day. A day dedicated to celebrating the cultural,
social, and political achievements of women. And a day to reflect on the issues that they
still face globally. But when did International Women’s Day start,
who started it, and did it help destroy a centuries old Russian monarchy? Well, Let’s Find Out. To unravel the true history of Women’s Day
we need to go back over 100 years. The first hints of it appear around 1900. The German Social Democratic Party were holding
conferences to discuss women’s issues. Such as the fact that they weren’t allowed
to vote. By 1907 the International Conference of Socialist
Women had gathered in Stuttgart, Germany. This was led by Clara Zetkin a German Marxist
from the German Social Democratic Party. One of her primary goals was to get women
into work so that they could take part in workers rights organisations. So they had the means to improve their own
conditions. At the conference they demanded “the right to universal female suffrage
without qualifications of property, tax, education or any other kind of barrier which may hinder
members of the working class from availing themselves of their political rights.” Across the ocean in the US the Socialist Party
and the Women’s national committee had declared the first Woman’s Day. Marching through the streets of New York they
protested for better pay and working conditions. Which took place on the 28th of February 1909. The March 8th date hadn’t been set yet. Following this a second International Conference
of Working Women came together in 1910. There in Copenhagen over 100 delegates from
across the world came together. Clara Zetkin pushed the idea of an International
Woman’s Day. A day every year and in every country were
women could organise and press for equal rights. After a unanimous vote, International Woman’s
Day was born. These women at the conference were pushing
some other revolutionary ideas. They demanded an eight-hour working day. They proposed that pregnant women stop working
for eight weeks prior to giving birth, and that women be paid “motherhood insurance”
of eight weeks if the child lived and all working women would enjoy these benefits,
including agricultural laborers, home workers and maid servants. These policies would be paid for by a special
maternity fund out of tax revenues. These policies were supposed to not only help
mother’s and keep them safe but also pay women for the essential non-paid work that
kept society functioning, while allowing them to remain in the paid workforce. These policies heavily influenced the ideas
of maternity and paternity leave that are common in nearly all developed countries today. From it’s very start International Woman’s
Day was a day for working women and it’s goal was to address their issues. Following this. International Woman’s Day celebrations sprang
up across Europe. The first European celebration of International
Woman’s Day happened in Vienna on March 18 1911. Women marched around the famous Ringstrasse
carrying banners including red flags commemorating the martyrs of the Paris Commune and demanding
the equal right to vote. If you don’t know what the Paris Commune
is go check out Stepback History’s video on the subject. Link is in the description. Millions of flyers soon carpeted Germany. Crying out: “Comrades! Working Women and Girls! March 19 is your day. It is your right. Behind your demand stands Social Democracy,
organized labor. The Socialist women of all countries are in
solidarity with you. March 19 should be your day of glory!” More than a million women took to the streets
in Germany. Crying out for equality. The fervor continued into 1912 with the Lawrence
Textile strike in the US, better known as the Bread and Roses Strike. Bread and Roses was the slogan coined by Rose
Schneiderman. A Polish-born American socialist and feminist. During her speech she said “The worker must have bread, but she must
have roses, too”. In other words, workers need more than just
wages to survive, the bread. They also need dignity and decent working
standards, roses. More and more demonstrations took place as
Woman’s day continued to be celebrated. But then the world decided to have a war. A First World War. Across Europe political demonstrations such
as Woman’s Day were cracked down on to keep peace on the homefront. To oppose this war, Clara Zetkin organised
the third and final Socialist Women’s Conference in April 1915. It drew delegates from across the globe including
people such as Nadezhda Krupskaya and her husband, Vladimir Lenin. They stated that the war only benefited the
rich and the arms manufactures and stole away the sons and husbands of mothers. The war went on despite all the efforts of
thes e women, but the idea of Woman’s Day also went on. The most dramatic celebration of International
Woman’s Day was in 1917 in Russia. Led by feminist Alexandra Kollontai. She is a recipient of the Order of the Aztec
Eagle award, which is completely unrelated but I just thought was badass. Women’s Day had already caused a ruckus in
Russia. Russian women had observed their first International
Woman’s Day in 1913. The following year all the organisers of the
International Woman’s Day in Russia ended up in handcuffs. Which kind of dampened the celebrations. But the war had changed things quite quickly. By 1917 the amount of women working in factories
had skyrocketed as men marched off to war. The women replacing them were paid half as
much. On top of this women found themselves mostly
working in the textile and chemical industries. Ones with long hours and horrific conditions. Things came to boiling point on International
Woman’s Day 1917 as women took to the streets to protest their mistreatment. Storming the streets of Petrograd on Feburary
23rd or March 8th on our calendar, women striked against war, starvation, and the Czar. In their thousands they marched through the
streets calling out to factory workers, men and women alike, to join them. Two days later nearly every industry in Petrograd
had ground to a halt. The protests weren’t just made up of workers
anymore either. Students, teachers, and those across the economic
spectrum joined in. Czar Nicholas ordered the military to shot
if they deemed it necessary. Soldiers and police smashed into the demonstrators. But to no avail, they couldn’t be stopped. The women had managed to convince whole regiments
to switch sides and join them. As Leon Trotsky’s tells us this about the
women. “They go up to the cordons more boldly than
men, take hold of the rifles, beseech, almost command, ‘Put down your bayonets; join us!” Russia’s February Revolution had begun. Trotski wrote, “23 February (8th March)
was International Woman’s Day and meetings and actions were foreseen. But we did not imagine that this ‘Woman’s
Day’ would inaugurate the revolution.” 7 days after International Womans’ Day, Czar
Nicholas II abdicated, ending 304-years of Romanov rule over Russia. The provisional government became one of the
first governments of a major power to grant women the right to vote. In 1921, Clara Zetkin and Second International
Conference of Communist Women in Moscow stated that March 8th would now be the official date. Lenin, with help from Zetkin made International
Woman’s Day a communist holiday in 1922. Communists in China started celebrating it
that year as well. These things were eventually destroyed by
Stalin. In 1936, he reversed most liberal policies
and banned abortion. Women’s right to vote would become useless
afterward. But the idea still remained and the revolutionary
spirit that caused them to be won in the first place couldn’t be done away with. With its connection to Communism and Russia,
Woman’s day fell out of favour in the West. Especially as women gained the right to vote
and people considered women’s fight for rights to be over. The US, gripped with panic and fear at the
thought of communism’s existence, disowned the day entirely. After 1922 information on it becomes scarce. Sometime during the 1940’s it seems to have
switched names from Woman’s day to Women’s day. And so this day. One that had inspired working women of the
20th century. One that had been the rallying cry for rights
and the fuel for a revolution was hidden behind an iron curtain. International Women’s Day remained a major
holiday only celebrated in socialist countries up until the 1970’s. But as Flower Power took hold in the late
sixties, feminists brought the celebration back and gave it new meaning as the women’s
movement grew. Most of the international community did not
formally observe the date until 1975. The UN celebrated International Women’s Year
that year, with Valentina Tereshkova the first woman in space acting as the Soviet representative. Since that year the UN officially celebrated
International Women’s Day on March 8th. International Women’s Day is now an official
holiday in many countries. On this day feminist demonstrations are held
in many countries. Because even though those early revolutionary
women of the 20th century achieved an enormous deal for women’s rights. The sad fact is that globally, women still
earn less than their male counterparts, they are less represented in business and politics,
they suffer greater risks of violence and carry the burdens of family care nearly single-handedly. But every year brings more progress. From Kabul to Kentucky every International
Women’s Day celebrates a new year with more powerful women as this revolutionary day continues
to inspire women just like it did over a century ago. I hope you enjoyed this video! You can leave a comment if you did or if you
have any questions regarding the video. All the sources used are in the description
down below. You can also support the channel through Patreon
and follow me on Facebook, Twitter or Reddit. All the links are in the description and it
would be very much appreciated! Don’t forget to subscribe and hit the notification
bell on your way out. Thanks so much for watching!

Comments 37

  • When November 19th 2019 come, also talk about that day as well. Nice video by the way

  • interesting video , good job on gathering the information

  • – Cogito – nice video bro.😀😀😀😀😀.👏👏👏👏👏.

  • but wait, is it on the 19 or the 8th then?

  • A pleasant surprise to hear a positive outlook on International Women's day.

  • You made me smile today 🙂

  • Great Video, and Happy International Women's Day! You are a great inspiration to my channel, so thanks for another great video!

  • Great video!
    But at 0:51 there's a little mistake in the map. Germany wasn't that big in the east. It had like two arms stretching at the Baltic see and at the border with Austria-Hungary. The area in between was Russian.
    To the north it was a bit bigger, stretching further into modern day Denmark.
    And Elsass-Loraine was part of the German Empire as well.

  • #Ahmed_Alhassan (pbuh):
    a wise woman and a woman who has the power to address the society and influence it, she certainly has a moral duty in the society…
    July 10, 2016

  • Great job.
    Female-equality haters in the comment section, beware:
    I dox.


  • featured in top 10 videos of the day on

  • I remember when I stumbled upon the International Women's Day demonstration in Madrid. So impressive (and loud). Didn't see anything similar until the women's marches in 2017.

  • Hey, how come there's putin in the list of tzars?!

  • Great video friend!

  • Most of these women fought against the opression of women through Marxism, it's not correct to call Kollontai a feminist when she even denounced feminism for leaving capitalism untouched among other reasons. They always said the working woman had more in common with working men than with women of the bourgeoisie.

  • – Cogito – talked about women’s day which is nice and informative, it’s also a anti-sexism day. When men’s day come in 11/19/2019, I’m gonna be interested about you talking in that subject. Fact is that men commits much more suicides than women, more likely to be homeless, more executed men than women, ect. Very interesting if you look at the different side of things.

  • What sucks is I get inappropriate comments by guys at least once a week sometimes more……its starts by your hot sweet heart or something like that then they go and say let's have sex, let's have a baby together… what the hell you don't even know me…..and what pissed me off was I tell them to stop they don't listen they only leave me alone when one of my guy friends get involved and stick up for me… does my voice mean anything you'll listen to them but not me…..I'm just happy I have friends who stick up for me when I need them just like I'm there for them

  • Did I see a Putin picture in that flip book of tsars?

  • Nice video. I didn't know early women rights movements were intertwined with socialist movements interesting.

  • Excellent presentation… “The world of humanity has two wings—one is women and the other men, not until both wings are equally developed can the bird fly. Should one wing remain weak, flight is impossible.” ~ ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Baha'i Faith

  • Finally, a Pili cameo!!! She’s done us women proud!!

  • I love the Secret Message for the Germans 😉

  • I like how you put Putin in that still of Romanov's!!!


  • International Women`s Day 2019 in Hamburg Germany: Thanks for watching us! :

  • International Women's Day led to the death of over a hundred million people then.
    It's funny how that was ignored.

  • This video was awesome. Two thumbs up!!


  • you deserve so many more views!

  • its on my birthday

  • When will people understand that history is fucked? I mean really their is a fucking nightmare story in every country going back human history, when you have no pads or tampons for a week to two weeks a month what can you do? Go to work bleeding? It was what it was during that time period, women were rich and powerful in the Bronze age in Europe, they were powerful throughout history in many different civilizations but when society's collapsed and life became primal life became primal. Men who are physically stronger did the labor, built, hunted, protected while women took care of the home front. It's how our species lives when we have no luxury of the modern world, it went back to it in the Dark ages and slowly women came back during the Industrial age then we got pads, tampons and birth control so things opened up.

    Women were state leaders in the 80's, women have been CEO's for decades and doing what ever they want yet this generation acts like it's all new like if a women is not doing something its a mans fault. Do what ever you want in life and good for you…

    The FIFA world cup stadium was built by slaves in Qatar but sure its about the women's who live in the cushiest country's on the planet.

    We keep going like this were gunna have a special day for everyone… except straight males…

  • It's kinda harsh to blame stalin for banning abortion and homosexuality. First of all Lenin repealed almost all laws when the bolsheviks got into power, so it's not exactly like he "legalised" these laws. Secondly it was a broad consensus in the scientific community at the time, that these things weren't good.

  • some good old commie propoganda thx for that

  • After an evening of watching many depressing docs etc, the end to this truly made me smile. Love your videos. Have a wonderful day

  • Amazing video! Def going to save this and show my students! Would love to see a future video on the history of Black History Month and even a video on why people want to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous People's Day!

  • 2:53 Nearly. Looks sternly at the US

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