The earliest Women’s Day celebrations took place in the United States on February 28, 1909. The holiday was observed in the country on the last Sunday of February until 1913.
The idea of establishing an annual International Woman’s Day belongs to German socialist activist Clara Zetkin. In August 1910, she addressed the International Conference of Working Women in Copenhagen with a proposal to set up a single date for this holiday. Her suggestion was supported by more than 100 women from 17 countries but no date was specified at that conference.
The tradition to mark International Women’s Day on March 8 emerged in 1914 when women-led rallies of protest and solidarity took place in Russia, the United States, Germany, Switzerland, Denmark, the Netherlands and some other countries. The date also commemorated major strikes of female workers of US textile factories that occurred on March 8 in 1857 and 1908.
The United Nations began celebrating International Women’s Day in 1975.
The holiday was celebrated in the Soviet Union since 1919 and was made an official holiday in 1965.
March 8 remains a public holiday in all post-Soviet republic except Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, as well as in Mongolia, Cuba, Vietnam, Laos, Afghanistan, Nepal, Cambodia and several African countries. On this day men traditionally give flowers and small gifts to their mothers, wives, girlfriends, daughters, colleagues and other women in their lives.