It is in Copenhagen, in 1910, at the Second International Conference of Socialist Women, gathering 100 delegates from 17 countries where Clara Zetkin proposed to adopt a resolution to organize every year an International Day dedicated to the struggle of women. This day had to count with the support of political and trade union organizations in each country.
The decision applies from 1911. Impressive events take place in Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Denmark and the United States. In 1912, the day celebrated in the France, Netherlands and Russia.
Women workers manifest million to bring to light their requirements and demand their rights:
- Right to 8-hour day,
- voting rights
- right to join a union,
- right to maternity protection,
- right to delete the job from Saturday…
WWI is preparing: racism, chauvinism and military spending on the rise. International Day will be a day of mobilization of women against war.
March 8, 1913, Russian women hold rallies. March 8, 1914, women demanding the right to vote in Germany. March 8, 1915, in Oslo, women defend their rights and demand peace.
In 1914, France and Germany, the workers’ demonstrations take place for peace and, in particular, for the release of Rosa Luxemburg, German activist William II remains in prison because she had stood against the coming war.
In 1915, Norway and Switzerland, women take up the slogan of Clara Zetkin: “War on War”.
In Russia, the February Revolution begins March 8, 1917 (February 23, the Julian calendar then in effect). In St. Petersburg, workers protest against high prices: bread half a kilo from three kopecks in 1913 to eighteen kopeks. They also demand the return of their husbands left for the front. This event will mark the beginning of the Russian Revolution. In 1921, March 8 is declared “Women’s Rights Day” holiday and idle.
March 8, the International Women’s Day will be celebrated for and by an increasing number of women.
This day has its roots deep in the history of women workers who fought for their demands.
In the 1850s in New York, the women garment workers working 16 hours a day in small rooms, often without windows; their salaries do not exceed $ 4 per week.
The protest movements are not uncommon. In 1835 in Philadelphia, after three weeks of strike, 10 hours are acquired. In 1840, the National Trade Unions (trade unions) obtained for all federal employees.
March 8, 1857, the production machines take to the streets for the “10 hours”, “healthy and clear parts to work”, the “wages equal to those of the tailors.” In the meeting they held on the evening of March 8, US seamstresses swear to end up every year on the same date.
The origins of March 8 are anchored to the left and rooted in the struggles of women working classes, women vanguard. Let not the official celebrations emptied of its meaning!
Today, the social achievements gained by our struggles are nibbled, threatened in the name of all profit. More than ever we need to demonstrate on March 8 and days that we are mobilized and determined to defend them!