By Sergei Samoilenko
International Women’s Day is celebrated on March 8th in many countries around the world as a special day to honor outstanding women’s achievements and publicly acknowledge call for equality. This significant day first started as a social political event on March 8, 1857 in New York City. On that day, women from clothing and textile factories had staged a protest against poor working conditions and low wages. The idea of holding an international day for women was first proposed at an International Women’s Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, as encouragement for women to press for their demands for equal rights and suffrage on a single day of celebration. International Women’s Day was celebrated for the first time in Austria, Denmark, Germany, and Switzerland on March 19, 1911. Women in these countries demanded the right to vote, to hold public office, and the right to work, according to the United Nations. More European women also began rallying against World War I. For example, in 1917 Russian women went on strike for bread and peace in protest of the deaths of more than 2 million Russian soldiers in the war, according to the U.N.
A few decades later, the political motives of the holiday moved to the background and now March 8th is celebrated in more than 100 countries. It is also an official holiday in many countries, including Angola, Cambodia, China, Cuba, Eritria, Kazakhstan, Laos, Nepal, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam, among others. In Russia, this beautiful spring holiday is most often celebrated in the family circle or with friends. Men and women give flowers, postcards with poetry, chocolate, and jewelry to their mothers, wives, grandmothers, sisters, and daughters. At school, children bring their female teachers flowers. Yellow mimosas, tulips, and roses are especially popular flowers on this day. In companies and organizations, women receive flowers and small memorable gifts from their co-workers and the management.
The International Woman’s Day theme for 2016 is “Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step It Up for Gender Equality”. The United Nations observance on March 8 will reflect on how to accelerate the 2030 Agenda, and other commitments on gender equality, women’s empowerment, and human rights. An independent campaign, separate from the UN, is being run by financial firm EY with other corporate partners, organizing events around a #PledgeForParity hashtag. National Women’s History Month reaches the global community and celebrates women’s accomplishments in a global recognition that honors women of all nations.
In our profession, women make up 63 percent of public relations “specialists,” according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data, and 59 percent of all PR managers. Other estimates say the female workforce for PR is closer to 73, or even 85 percent. Ragan.com … reported that 73 percent of the Public Relations Society of America’s members are women. Leeza L. Hoyt, president of the Hoyt Organization, examined the reasons why many women choose public relations for their career. The reasons are numerous and in some cases, may be the opportunity to raise a family and have a successful career with greater work-life balance, flexible hours, and telecommuting options. One thing is clear for both men and women in the field; public relations careers allow professionals to enjoy a variety of responsibilities, engage with key influencers, pursue a swiftly-moving career, and evolve constantly. Public relations practitioners serve the public by bringing attention to important social and political issues.
International Women’s Day is becoming deeply ingrained in history and culture of many countries. This is a perfect opportunity for many companies and organizations to honor and celebrate women’s achievements in the personal, public, and political spheres. Happy International Women’s Day!