International Women’s Day in Ukraine
International Women’s Day (IWD) is celebrated on the 8th of March. It is an occasion marked by women's groups around the world. This date is also commemorated at the United Nations and is designated in many countries as a national holiday, including Ukraine. When women on all continents, often divided by national boundaries and by ethnic, linguistic, cultural, economic and political differences, come together to celebrate their Day, they can look back at a tradition that represents at least nine decades of a struggle for equality, justice, peace and development.
At the beginning of the 20th century women got tired of oppression and inequality feeling it was time for change. In 1908, 15,000 women marched through New York City demanding shorter working hours, better pay and voting rights. The next year, on 28th February, the first National Women's Day was observed across the United States.
Women in Europe followed suit. At a meeting in Copenhagen in 1910, an International Women's Day with no fixed date was proposed to honor the women's rights movement and to assist in achieving universal suffrage for women. Over 100 women from 17 countries unanimously agreed to the proposal. Three of them were later elected the first women to the Finnish parliament.
Inspired by the American commemoration of working women, German socialist Klara Zetkin organized International Women's Day in 1911. On March 19th socialists from Germany, Austria, Denmark and other European countries held strikes and marches. Unfortunately, soon thereafter, the tragic 'Triangle Fire' in New York City took the lives of more than 140 working women. This disastrous event drew significant attention to working conditions and labor legislation in the United States that became a focus of subsequent International Women's Day events.
Russian women observed their first International Women's Day on the last Sunday in February 1913. In 1914 women across Europe held rallies to campaign against the World War I and to express their solidarity. In 1917 on the last Sunday of February, Russian women began a strike for "bread and peace" in response to the death of over 2 million Russian soldiers in war. Opposed by political leaders the women continued to strike until four days later the Tsar was forced to abdicate and the provisional government granted women the right to vote. The date the women's strike commenced was Sunday 23 February according to the Julian calendar used in Russia back then. In the Gregorian calendar this day falls on 8th March.
International Women's Day has grown to become a global day of recognition and celebration worldwide. IWD is now an official holiday in Armenia, Russia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bulgaria, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Macedonia, Moldova, Mongolia, Tajikistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan and Vietnam. Women's organizations elsewhere observe IWD annually by holding large-scale events that honor women's advancement and remind of the continued action required to ensure that women's equality is gained and maintained in all aspects of life.
In Ukraine IWD originated from the time, when Kollontai, a minister in the first Soviet government, persuaded Lenin to make March 8th an official communist holiday. During the Soviet period, the holiday was celebrated as the holiday of "the heroic woman worker". Now it is an official day off and both men and women are looking forward to this holiday. It has lost its political meaning since and celebrates the unconditional love, sacrifice, patience, wisdom, and beauty of the Ukrainian women instead. It is the day of all women: mothers, grandmothers, sisters, daughters, wives and girlfriends.
On Women's Day it is common to give flowers not only to lovers, but to friends, co-workers and business partners too. A bouquet and sweets are a good choice for Women's Day in Ukraine. Or you can present something more to acknowledge this occasion. See www.123greetings.com , www.care2.com and www.kievregion.net to send a virtual postcard or www.ukraine-flower.com to order gifts and flowers.
Interesting fact about IWD
Purple, green and white are the official international women's colors. The colors originate from the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU) active in the UK in 1908. The colors were said to represent:
- white for purity in public as well as private life
- purple for justice, dignity, self-reverence and self-respect (and representing the women's vote)
- green for hope and new life
The colors unified the women's movement and emphasized the femininity of the suffragettes. The tricolor of the WSPU soon became a visual cue for the women's movement in other countries. Purple, green and white were worn on International Women's Day and were used for other women's movement banners and posters.
More recently, two changes have occurred:
- the use of the color white has more recently been rejected as 'purity' is a controversial issue and attitudes towards the role of 'purity' from women differ greatly
- the introduction of the color gold representing 'a new dawn' has been commonly used to represent the second wave of feminism.
See also where to shop for flowers and other gifts in Kiev and online