International Women's Day is celebrated on March 8th. 27 countries (mainly former Soviet republics) have adopted International Women's Day as a national holiday, and it is widely observed in several others.
For most of the countries who observe this holiday, if it falls on a weekend, it will be moved to the following Monday. If it falls on a Tuesday or Thursday, several countries will bridge the holiday to the weekend by declaring an additional public holiday on the Monday or Friday - though often this is compensated for by making a Saturday a working day.
In China since 2014, women are entitled to a half-day holiday for Women's Day. In Madagascar and Nepal, the day is also an official women-only holiday.
History of International Women's Day
International Women's Day was first established at the 1910 International Socialist Women's Conference in Copenhagen. German women's rights activist and Marxist theorist Clara Zetkin was the one who tabled the idea. Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and Denmark celebrated the holiday for the first time on March 19th 1911, with the Soviet Union the first to make it a public holiday in 1917 The date of 8th March was adopted internationally in 1921. In 1977, the United Nations declared 8th March as International Women's Day, a day each year when the world should celebrate, recognize and remember women and the accomplishments they have made to society. Each year has a theme:
2020: I am Generation Equality: Realizing Women's Rights.
2019: #BalanceforBetter; a call-to-action for driving gender balance across the world.
2017: "Women in the Changing World of Work: Planet 50-50 by 2030"
2016: "Pledge for Parity"
It is often said that the date chosen for International Women's Day marks a mass protest that took place in New York on March 8th 1857, when women from sewing and shoe factories demonstrated for the same rights as men. Men had recently won a 10-hour workday, but women had been overlooked in the legislation and left on a 16-hour workday. As a result, 8th March became a traditional day for regular demonstrations in the US and Europe.
However, recent reports have cast doubt on whether this event ever took place, with newspapers of the time not reporting any such march.
Given how the holiday began in Russia, a more plausible source for the date is 1917 when Russian women marched to protest for 'Bread and Peace' on the last Sunday in February (which was March 8th in the Gregorian calendar in use in the rest of Europe). This march contributed to the Czar abdicating four days later and the new government granted women the right to vote. It would be three years later before women in the US had the same rights.