A History of International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day is a global day that recognises and celebrates the cultural, social and political achievements of women around the world. This day also marks a day where women around the world call for change to help close the gender inequality gap, to help raise women up and press for progress. We have come so far since Women’s Day began 100 years ago but we still have a long way to go!

Check out our brief timeline of International Women’s Day and some of the best stories and signs from around the world below.

Before the early 1900’s women still weren’t allowed to vote, meaning that they couldn’t contribute to any political or social decisions made by the country that they lived in. A lot of the rules and laws were often made against women, which was not only totally unfair but completely sexist. It was only in England in 1918 that Emmeline Pankhurst and Louise Eates led the suffragettes to some women’s right to vote, after women sacrificing their lives for this cause. It’s important to remember that their fight led only white women to be able to vote and it was only later on that all women of colour could vote in the UK.

In the 1960’s and 70’s women marched to not only end the war but for women’s healthcare and financial equality in marriage. Contraception was made widely available in the UK which was a major step forward in breaking sexual taboos for women. This gave sexual freedom and control over their own bodies but is still something that is not easily available around the world today and is still being discussed.

Did you know that before the 1980’s pubs and bars could refuse to serve women based on the fact that she’s a woman? Ridiculous right? No one’s standing between us and tequila… Since then laws have passed meaning that workplaces and public spaces can’t discriminate against a woman based on gender. In 1987 Diane Abbot becomes the first black female member of Parliament and still works today. (Artwork by Barbara Kruger).

Recently third wave feminism (when the fight for gender equality is brought on by political events), has happened in reaction things like Donald Trump’s presidency in America. Women’s March reached a whole new record with millions of women marching around the world to protest for women’s rights and changes to the law which prevents a woman’s control over her body. International Women’s Day now represents all women, including minority groups like women of colour, trans women and disabled women – groups that in the past that had had not been included.

Celebrity involvement has helped to raise awareness online and spread through social media. Celebrities like Emily Ratajkowski and Emma Watson have been spotted marching at International Women’s Day marches, along with plenty of others!

Check out our International Women’s Day campaign here.