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International Women’s Day

8 March 2000

The decision to celebrate annually the International Women’s Day was made in 1910 in Copenhagen during the 2nd International conference of the socialists. The idea was proposed by Clara Zetkin who called upon all the women of the world to join the struggle to have equal rights with men.

In order to demonstrate women solidarity was chosen one of the days of March though the dates of the events were not agreed upon between the female citizens of different countries and could be held on different days. The tradition to use for this goal the day of the 8th of March appeared when in 1914 the women of several countries including Russia chose for their holiday this very day.

In Russia the International Women’s Day was celebrated for the first time in 1913 in St.-Petersburg. On March 2 (15), 1913 in the building of bread exchange of Kalashnikov on Poltavskaya street, took place a crowded meeting attended by 1.500 people. The issues discussed were: the vote for women, the state support of the motherhood, the high cost of living.

On February 23 (March 8), 1917 in Petrograd the women of Russia went out on the streets demanding ‘bread and peace’. This demonstration marked the beginning of the February revolution owing to which in March of 1917 the Russian women were granted the vote.

The Constitution of the RSFSR of 1918 adopted after the October revolution legalized the policy of the women’s equality. To realize women’s equality at the first all-Russian congress of the female workers and peasants in November of 1918 were formed the committees for promotion and agitation among women which were later transformed into women’s offices. Through these types of organizations women were solving various problems: they organized nursery schools, educated women and placed them in jobs, supported problem families, etc.

From September of 1941 until the collapse of the USSR the interests of the Russian female citizens were represented by the Committee of the Soviet women. After the Soviet Union liquidation its duties were taken over by the Union of the Russian women created in November of 1990 and to the hundreds of independent women’s organizations.

On May 8, 1965 by the decree of the Supreme Soviet Presidium of the USSR the International Women’s Day of March 8 was announced a holiday ‘in honor of the outstanding achievements of the Soviet women in the communist construction, in defending of the motherland during the Great Patriotic war, their heroism and selflessness on the front and on the home front and for their great contribution to the strengthening of friendship between peoples and struggle for peace’.

At present the 8th of March is celebrated as the International Women’s Day in many countries. In 1978 the International Women’s Day was included in the list of holidays officially acknowledged by the United Nations. At present it is celebrated in many countries of the world including Russia which retained the tradition to celebrate this day as a day off.

Lit.: Балаховская Л. Г. Международный женский день 8 марта // Большая советская энциклопедия. Т. 15. М., 1974.

From the Presidential library materials:

Женщины Минска! Дорогие сестры! "Международный женский день 8 марта мы отмечаем в условиях самоотверженной борьбы Советского народа с гнусными оккупантами, в обстановке исторических побед советских войск над гитлеровскими полчищами ..." : [листовка]. [Б. м.], 1944;

Петражицкий Л. И. О женском равноправии. Пг., 1915.