Celebrating Women in March
As March comes to a close, we reflect on International Women’s day and the meaning behind this globally celebrated holiday.
The 8th of March has been celebrated as International Women’s day since the early 20th century, uniting movements from across the globe. March 8 is commemorated in a number of ways, with some countries celebrating through cultural practices, public commemorations, and activities.
South Africa also honours a national Women’s day on the 9th of August each year, which is celebrated as a public holiday.
Women’s Day Celebrations Across the World
In some countries, Women’s day is celebrated as a public holiday, while for many other countries, Women’s Day remains a simpler celebration of women’s roles, achievements, and importance in society. Countries across the world have their own interpretations of this day and ways to celebrate it.
Many communities also include rallies and protests as part of the activities for International Women’s Day, aligned with movements important for Women’s rights. Protests and rallies in 2022 included protests in support of Women’s rights, against violence against women, and other movements. Many countries traditionally see marches hosted on March 8th, including Chile, Spain, Australia, and Argentina.
Other activities include sunrise swims, art installations, lectures, workshops, and time off work.
A floral tribute across many cultures
Many of the countries and cultures that celebrate International Women’s Day do so with floral tributes. Romania, Poland, Argentina, and Italy honour this day and the celebrants with flowers- including Poland with Tulips, and Italy with yellow Mimosa flowers.
In the USA, Women’s celebrations are not only limited to one day, as March is celebrated as women’s month- a month in which Americans celebrate women’s history and achievements. This month is used as a time to commemorate and encourage the role of American women in history, with many groups taking part. The first National Women’s Day was celebrated in the United States in February of 1909, while the first International Women’s Day was celebrated in Denmark, Austria, Germany, and Switzerland in March 1911.
Celebrating Women’s day in South Africa
2022 saw South Africa celebrate International Women’s day in its very own way, with the Department of Women, Youth, and Persons with Disabilities driving the celebrations. On this day, the Department celebrated under the United Nations theme of ‘Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow”, which recognised and celebrated women and girls working on climate change adaptation.
South Africa also celebrates its very own version of Women’s Day, celebrated independently of the International day, which is also recognised in South Africa. In South Africa, national woman’s day is celebrated on the 9th of August each year, with the government formally acknowledging this day as a day on which to remember and honour the Women’s day March which took place on the 9th of August 1956. This march was held to protest the government’s new legislation which sought to increase governmental control over the movement of black women. Around 20 000 women took part in this march.
With a varied history across the world, Women’s Day and Women’s month have different meanings for different people- but no matter how they celebrate, all regions have their own way of celebrating women’s lives and contributions.