The history of International Women's Day involved toppling a regime. Bet you didn't know that.

International Women’s Day has new currency in the Trump era. In 2017, the so-called third-wave feminist movement has seen pussy hats going down runways in New York and people of both genders marching in their millions to promote women’s rights.

But IWD’s roots run much deeper and much broader than any one cause or any one country. Roots took hold more than 100 years ago.

It was 1910, and the era of protest had begun.

Industrialisation had seen record numbers of women make the leap the paid workforce, where they were met with segregated jobs, woeful working conditions and even worse pay.

So far, only three countries had granted women the right to vote in federal elections – New Zealand, Finland and Australia (presuming they weren’t Indigenous, that is) – and only Finland had any female representatives sitting in its parliament.

But from these ripples grew a wave that began to wash across the western world. A push for gender equality that in 1908 had seen more than 15,000 female garment workers strike in New York, which in turn inspired a dedicated day for US women’s causes in 1909.

Modern women doing kickass things of kickassery. This mum is amazing. (Podcast continues after video.)

Riding this wave were the 100-plus representatives attending the 1910 International Socialist Women’s Conference, who pledged at their meeting in Cophenhagen to establish a worldwide equivalent, a day devoted to honouring the push for equal rights and universal suffrage.

The following year one million men and women rallied in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland to mark “International Women’s Day”. A movement was born.


A movement that six years later toppled an empire.

Russian women march in Pertrograd on IWD 1917. Image: Getty.

On March 8, 1917 hundreds of thousands of men and women chose IWD to flood the streets of Petrograd, Russia, and demand an end to food rationing, the end of World War I and the end of the Tsarist regime.

After eight days of pressure created by this female-led 'bread and peace' movement, Tsar Nicholas II abdicated allowing for a provisional government that granted women the right to vote.

One hundred years later, this is still considered one of the most significant milestones of IWD history.


International Women's Day, around the world, through the years. (Post continues after gallery.)


This year has seen a revival of that proactive, protesting spirit, not seen since the women's liberation movement in the 1960s and '70s.

It was in the thick of that, in 1975 - International Women's Year - that March 8 was officially adopted by the United Nations and went truly global.

Today, in some countries, including Afghanistan, China and Uganda, it's an official holiday.

In others, it's tradition for men to give flowers to the women in their lives - yellow mimosas in Italy, violets and lily-of-the-valley in France.

In Portugal, women host female-only dinner parties.

Each country observes the day in different ways; from marches to exhibitions, conferences to concerts. Ways that celebrate the progress and highlight the roadblocks on the journey toward equality.

Last year, we were encouraged to Pledge for Parity. In 2017, with the pay gap prevailing, women's rights being threatened - even revoked - by those in positions of power, the theme is simple: Be Bold For Change.

How will you mark International Women's Day in 2017? Let us know below.