By: Leslie Patt, Work and Travel Policy and Compliance Manager

International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month is an official holiday in many countries around the world including China, Russia, Afghanistan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Macedonia, Moldova, Mongolia, Ukraine and Montenegro.  While not an official holiday, it is also widely recognized and observed in Croatia, Romania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Bulgaria and Chile.  To celebrate the holiday, it is customary for men to give women flowers, especially the yellow mimosa, and small gifts, such as chocolate.  Children also give small gifts to their mothers and grandmothers, like on Mother’s Day.  Women in some countries use International Women’s Day to organize demonstrations, as in Poland, and to continue to draw attention to their struggles for equal rights, as in Pakistan.


Here is some historical background on this holiday:

The first Women’s Day was held in the United States on February 28, 1909.  Although originally linked with the Socialist Party of America, the idea spread around the world and quickly became associated with the spread of better working conditions and equal rights for women, including suffrage (the right to vote).  In 1917, demonstrations in St. Petersburg and a women’s strike for “bread and peace” began.  These strikes led to the abdication of the Czar and the February Revolution, which eventually led to the Bolshevik Revolution later that year.  Although an official holiday in the Soviet Union since the Soviet Revolution, it was declared a non-working holiday in 1965.  Also in 1965, the United Nations invited their member countries to proclaim March 8 as a UN Day for women’s rights and world peace and they continue to hold annual International Women’s Day conferences to draw attention to specific issues.  1975 was declared “International Women’s Year” by the UN.

Womens-History-MonthIn 2011, US President Barack Obama declared March Women’s History Month, asking Americans to recognize and reflect on the extraordinary accomplishments of women in America’s history.  In 2012, the theme for the UN International Women’s Day was Empower Rural Women – End Hunger and Poverty.  This year’s theme for the UN is “A promise is a promise: Time for action to end violence against women.” The general theme is The Gender Agenda: Gaining Momentum.

From everyone at CCI Greenheart, we hope that this March 8, you send a special note or gift to the women in your life!