Mariana Flores Melo: Origin of International Women’s Day

What is the origin of March 8? As we know, this day celebrates Women’s Day, when the defense of women’s rights is what counts and in which we must publicly claim those rights more forcefully than ever before. Women’s Day is celebrated since the beginning of the 20th century, but there is some controversy about the seed that originated it, controversial we will try to clarify in this article with the help of a research work that only claims the best knowledge of our history as Free women.

The movement for women’s rights did not emerge in the twentieth or nineteenth century as many of us thought, but there are already documented antecedents. However, until the twentieth century the greatest achievements have not been achieved, always with the sacrifice and struggle of many women who have not wanted to settle.

The first International Women’s Day took place on March 19, 1911 in several European countries, and that first meeting was attended by more than one million women anxious to make known to the world their demands:

  • The right to vote
  • The right to hold public office
  • The right to vocational training
  • The right to work and non-discrimination for the mere fact of being a woman.

Although the above is known with certainty the problem arises when we want to know the trigger of this event, since there are many sources of erroneous information with different versions on the matter.

One of the versions on this subject says that on March 8, 1857 in New York the women of a factory, protested for the improvement of their working conditions, after which the entrepreneur who owns the factory Enclosed them and set the factory on fire, killing 129 women. The myth goes on to say that, in commemoration of this event, International Women’s Day emerged later, but in reality there is no reliable document to support this version.

Serious research on this subject is that in 1910, when the Second International Conference of Socialist Women was held in 1910, the International Working Women’s Day was unanimously approved as a method of struggle For the cause of the woman. This was thanks to the proposal made by a socialist and German woman, Clara Zetkin.

Continuing with the history of women’s struggle, and leaving aside controversies aside, after the success of the first meeting more countries were joining the successful public demonstration. Russia did it in 1913, and in the rest of Europe there were meetings of support to the woman and against the war (World War I) in 1914 in dates near the 8 of March.


It was March 8, 1917 in Russia where, as a result of the food shortage, the women mutinied. This important event marked the beginning of the Russian Revolution, which led to the fall of the Tsar and the establishment of an interim government that for the first time granted women the right to vote. Due to the relevance of this event, and especially since it was the women who carried it out, it seems that the International Working Women’s Day was definitively placed on the 8th of March of the Gregorian calendar.


Already in 1920 in the United States is obtained the approval of the Nineteenth Amendment of the American Constitution that grants to the women the right to the suffrage in this country.

Another important fact is the adherence to the defense of women and their rights to the United Nations since a letter was signed in San Francisco in 1945 that constitutes the first international agreement that defends equality of both sexes as a fundamental and indisputable right. And since then the United Nations has taken innumerable measures in different fields to ensure that what is written in that letter is one day reflected in reality led to join the celebration of International Women’s Day on March 8.


The situation of the woman has evolved in a vertiginous way since a million women met the 19 of March of 1911 to publicly claim what by their nature corresponded to them, but we must not forget that a century later There are still objectives that have not been achieved, such as non-discrimination of women at work. That is why we should not relax or settle, especially on March 8.

We must not be conformists and remember that this is our cause, and that no official body will defend it with more force than we ourselves. We can do it from our families, friends and work, and especially remembering that we have much easier today as others have overcome many difficulties throughout history.