In 1908 15,000 women marched through New York City demanding shorter working hours, better pay and the right to vote. A year later, the Socialist Party of America declared the first National Woman’s Day.
The idea to then make the day international came from a woman called Clara Zetkin. She suggested it in 1910 during an International Conference of Working Women in Copenhagen. There were 100 women there, from 17 countries, and they agreed unanimously. It was first celebrated in 1911, in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland.
The date of March 8 wasn’t formalised until a war-time strike in 1917 when Russian women marched during four days demanding “bread and peace“. It would mark the first day of the Russian Revolution – 8 March (23 February in the old Russian calendar) and is considered the have forced the Tsar to abdicate.
In 1975, the United Nations (UN) started celebrating the day and since 1996 it sets an annual theme.