International Women’s Day held on 8th March is celebrated by many countries around the world to honour women’s achievements throughout the history. Started as a political event, the holiday adopted in the culture of many countries. In some celebrations, the day lost its political tone, and became simply an occasion for men to express their love to the women around them.
The archetype for the modern Women’s Day is known as Matronalia, celebrated on the first week of March in ancient Rome. It was festival of Juno Lucina (the goddess of childbirth), motherhood, fertility and women in general. Roman husbands were expected to give gifts and offer prayers for their wives.
The first Women’s Day was celebrated on 28 February 1909, organised by the Socialist Party of America after the riots and strikes in New York.
In 1917, women in Russia have organised demonstrations under the slogan “bread and peace”. This was the beginning of the Russian Revolution. Few days later, the Emperor of Russia Nicholas II abdicated and the provisional Government granted women the right to vote. March 8 was declared a national holiday in the Soviet Russia in 1917.
In Poland, Women’s Day was very popular during communist times. All women received special attention usually by getting a flower – carnation and a pair of stockings. This day is still very popular as it used to be. The custom of giving women flowers still prevails.
Currently, demonstrations and feminist marches are organised to call for equal treatment of women and men. Recent speech delivered by Polish Member of the European Parliament Janusz Korwin-Mikke saying that “On average, women are weaker, smaller and less intelligent than men” therefore it is only fair that they should earn less, gives thousands of Polish women just one more reason to demonstrate. Today, many Polish cities hold International Women’s Strike. Women required for free access to modern contraception, safe abortion, funding in vitro and prenatal testing of the latest generation.