International Women's Day
(Women's History Month)

Around the world, International Women's Day (IWD) marks a celebration of the economic, social, cultural and politcal achievements for women.

An international celebration of education and empowerment, the first IWD was held on March 19, 1911 in Germany, Austria, Denmark and other European countries. German women selected this date in observation of the Prussian king in 1848 who had promised the vote to women. Subsequently over one million leaflets calling for action on the right to vote were distributed throughout Germany before IWD in 1911.

Now, IWD is always celebrated on March 8th and it's 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. Women in every country, often divided by ethnic, linguistic, cultural, economic and political differences , come together to celebrate this important date that represents equality, justice, peace and development.

International Women's Day is the story of ordinary women as makers of history; it is rooted in the centuries-old struggle of women seeking to participate equally in society on an equal footing with men. In ancient Greece, Lysistrata initiated a sexual strike against men to order to end war; during the French Revolution, Parisian women calling for 'liberty, equality, fraternity" marched on Versailles to demand women's suffrage.

The idea of an International Women's Day first arose at the turn of the century, which in the industrialized world was a period of expansion and turbulence, booming population growth and radical ideaologies. Until women are fully represented at senior leaderships levels of public, professional and economic life, women do not have equal rights nor an equal voice.

The growing international women's movement has helped make IWD a special day for promoting women's rights and participation in political and economic processes. Increasingly, International Women's Day is a time to reflect on the progress made, to call for change and to celebrate acts of courage and determination by ordinary women who have played an extraordinary role in the history of women's rights.

Know of any "good" women to talk about during the month of March? Women who made scientific discoveries? Created fair laws? Started million-dollar companies? Changed the way employers treated factory workers during the depression? or flew to the moon?

If so, start talking. Others need to know

March is that time of year set aside to celebrate women's achievements in the home, school and workplace. Libraries set up book displays dedicated to women authors. Teachers assign research papers on women inventors and engineers. Service clubs host guest speakers to share stories about women's impact on society. The communities are busy with a wide variety of activities desgined to bring awareness to women's role in history.

Plan an acitivity with your family and friends. Watch "Norma Rae," a true story starring Sally Fields and directed by Penny Marshal. Volunteer to be a reader for a children's story hour at the local bookstore and highlight famous women. Watch Oxygen on cable television, a station devoted to women. Participate in a genealogy research project and call family members to glean new stories about your female ancestors.

Whatever the activity, celebrate Women's History Month!!

Take the Women's History quiz.