A brief history of International Women’s Day

2 min. reading
BBVA Group, Culture / 8 March, 2018

Leticia Peña Escribano Client Solutions

Women's empowerment, sisterhood, and the current social, cultural and political movements related to gender equality are driving a growing determination to bring about change. Echoing and celebrating International Women's Day means highlighting, supporting and focusing efforts on correcting inequality and improving women's inclusion and development. The origin of this celebration dates back to 1909 when the United States organized its first National Women's Day. One year later in Copenhagen, the movement proclaimed its support for women's rights and universal female suffrage. The first International Women's Day was held in 1911 against a background of change and political and social revolt. Germany, Austria, Denmark and Switzerland hosted the first rallies demanding an end to employment discrimination and calling for access to professional training for women and the right to work. Even more vociferously, they claimed the right to vote and occupy public positions. During the following years, marked by WWI, the event became a march against war. In 1917 Russian women went on strike for "bread and peace", which days later resulted in the proclamation of female suffrage in that country. After that historic turning point, more and more countries started celebrating the day. In Spain it was first marked in 1936, three years after women won the right to vote. Since those early days of the 20th century, participation in the event has continued to grow, as well as the number of claims and achievements. The UN has marked International Women's Day since 1975, celebrating a different theme each year. This year the UN theme is: "The Time is Now: Rural and Urban Activists Transforming Women's Lives". The BBVA Microfinance Foundation has carried the voice of its female entrepreneurs to the United Nations. The Foundation's work is aligned with the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, the UN's universal roadmap for improving and achieving these goals by 2030. The project launched by the BBVA Microfinance Foundation aims to improve women's lives through their economic empowerment, and to date more than one million women have benefited from the Foundation's financial services. This day will continue to be celebrated, empowering women all over the world to address the social, economic and political challenges they face with the help of all members of society.