Interesting Facts About International Women’s Day: It Sparked Violence In Tehran (2007)

International Women’s Day (IWD) is celebrated on March 8 every year. It is a focal point in the movement for women’s rights.
After the Socialist Party of America organized a Women’s Day on February 28, 1909 in New York, the 1910 International Socialist Woman’s Conference suggested a Women’s Day be held annually.
After women gained suffrage in Soviet Russia in 1917, March 8 became a national holiday there. The socialist movement and communist countries then predominantly celebrated the day until the United Nations adopted it in 1975.
Today, International Women’s Day is a public holiday in some countries and largely ignored elsewhere. In some places, it is a day of protest; in others, it is a day that celebrates womanhood.
Here are some interesting facts about International Women’s Day:
1. In some countries, such as Cameroon, Croatia, Romania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria and Chile, the day is not a public holiday, but is widely observed nonetheless. On this day, it is customary for men to give the women in their lives – friends, mothers, wives, girlfriends, daughters, colleagues, etc. – flowers and small gifts.
2. International Women’s Day sparked violence in Tehran, Iran on March 4, 2007, when police beat hundreds of men and women who were planning a rally. (A previous rally for the occasion was held in Tehran in 2003.)
Police arrested dozens of women and some were released after several days of solitary confinement and interrogation. Shadi Sadr, Mahbubeh Abbasgholizadeh and several more community activists were released on March 19, 2007, ending a fifteen-day hunger strike.
3. The United Nations began celebrating International Women’s Day in the International Women’s Year, 1975. In 1977, the United Nations General Assembly invited member states to proclaim March 8 as the UN Day for women’s rights and world peace.
4. In the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic, huge Soviet-style celebrations were held annually. After the fall of Communism, the holiday, generally considered to be one of the major symbols of the old regime, fell into obscurity.
International Women’s Day was re-established as an official “important day” by the Parliament of the Czech Republic in 2004 on the proposal of the Social Democrats and Communists. This has provoked some controversy as a large part of the public as well as the political right see the holiday as a relic of the nation’s Communist past.
5. In Italy, to celebrate the day, men give yellow mimosas to women. Communist politician Teresa Mattei chose the mimosa in 1946 as the symbol of IWD in Italy because she felt that the French symbols of the day, violets and lily-of-the-valley, were too scarce and expensive to be used effectively in Italy.
6. In the United States, actress and human rights activist Beata Pozniak worked with the Mayor of Los Angeles and the Governor of California to lobby members of the U.S. Congress to propose official recognition of the holiday.
In February 1994, Rep. Maxine Waters, introduced H. J. Res. 316 along with 79 cosponsors, in an attempt to officially recognize March 8 of that year as International Women’s Day. The bill was subsequently referred to, and remained in, the House Committee on Post Office and Civil Service. No vote of either house of Congress was achieved on this piece of legislation.

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