History behind International Women's Day
History behind International Women's Day
  • 차지혜 기자
  • 승인 2009.03.02 00:01
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Women around the world have become prime ministers, chief executives and astronauts; however, such achievements did not come in a twinkling of an eye. Efforts to elevate women’s standards began in the early 1700s, but crystallized in the 1900s with marches and campaigns that have since led to International Women’s Day.

 International Women’s Day goes back to March 8, 1908 when continual gender inequality made some active women to burst in a campaign for change. Fifteen thousand women marched through New York City demanding voting rights, shorter hours and better wages at works. This movement spurred other women to face up to reality and participate in the process of demanding the equal rights.

Two years later, at the International Conference of Working Women held by the Second International in 1910, a proposal to hold a celebration to press for women’s demands was passed on March 8, began to be honored as International Women’s Day (IWD) for the first time in 1911. More than one million women and men attended IWD rallies campaigning for women's rights to work, vote, be trained, and hold public office.

As the number of women participating in the movement and campaigns increased, International Women’s Day became a global day of recognition around the world—this year, three hundred forty nine events are being held in 29 countries, and IWD is now designated as an official holiday in countries such as China, Russia, Mongolia, Vietnam and many more. Tradition sees men honoring their mothers, wives, girlfriends, colleagues with flowers and small gifts or, in some countries, IWD has an equivalent status to Mother's Day, where children give small presents to their mothers and grandmothers.

Korean women also put forth annual efforts to commemorate International Women’s Day. Korean Women's Day Organizing Committee (KWDOC) under the supervision of Korean Women’s Association United annually celebrates Korean Women’s Day Festival.

This year, celebrating the 101st anniversary of the International Women’s Day and 25th anniversary of Korean Women’s Day Festival, KWDOC will hold its event under the slogan of “Let Women Make Great World Without Poverty and Violence” on March 8, at Cheonggye Stream Plaza. Starting with an opening performance, anyone can take part in different events prepared such as Djembe (A skin-covered African drum) Learning, Marching together with traditional instrument playing group, from Cheonggye Stream Plaza, Dongwha Duty Free, Coreana Hotel, Daehanmun, City Hall and back to its starting place.

“The purpose of this festival is to commemorate the significance of International Women’s Day and to communicate with the mass,” said Yoo Il-young, one of the committee members. According to Yoo, about 100 university students annually volunteer in the program. “It is always the more, the better. I hope increasing number of students will participate in this event,” said Yoo.

For a century, the world has gradually opened the doors of opportunity. However, women are constantly working hard to break the still-existing wall of inequality and this has done through various activities—political rallies, business conferences, government activities and networking events—especially under the name of International Women’s Day.

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