On 8 March of every year, the world celebrates International Women’s Day.
The celebration dates back to the 19th century, during the industrial revolution in America and Europe, as trade unions and workers movements increased in response to exploitation by business owners.
Protests had a great role in exposing the problems of the working woman. The first protest for female workers took place in New York in 1875, when workers in the textile industry protested against their working conditions. On 8 March 1908, approximately 15,000 female workers took part in a march in New York demanding a reduction in the number of working hours, a raise in pensions, an end to child labor and the right to vote.
The protest was entitled “Bread and Roses”. Other protests were later held throughout America and Europe. The first official sign of an International Women’s Day appeared in a protest staged by socialist female activists who were demanding the right to vote on 28 February 1909.
During the international women's conference in Copenhagen in 1910, a German woman said she was inspired by the American experience in allocating an international day for women. It was first celebrated there on 19 March 1911. Over time, other countries celebrated it on other days, before the celebration was to officially take place on 8 March on a global scale.
Female writer and activist Azza Kamel said that no progress has been made in women’s political rights since former President Gamal Abdel Nasser issued the 1956 constitution which granted women the right to vote and run for parliament.
Although women now occupy suitable positions at work, the male-dominated perspective still limits their freedom. Working women and those in poor societies still suffer a great deal.
Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm