March 8, Not the Original Choice for Celebrating Women’s Day!

International Women’s Day Special


Every week, Dear reader, I try and give you a peek into what it must be like to write a weekly column (about 7 days of sustained ennui and 30 minutes of sheer panic, but who’s counting?). Last week, for example, I showed you how procrastination is a crucial skill when it comes to writing columns. Today, allow me to tell you about the truly difficult task of choosing what to write about.

The day after the column has been put up is when the gentle glow of satisfaction associated with having met the previous deadline starts to fade. This gradually, over the course of the next six days, metamorphoses into a state of sustained palpitations about what exactly to write about in the next column. Me, personally, I find that this is the hardest part. Once the what to write about part is conquered, you’re virtually home free.

Which is why this week’s column feels particularly effortless, because the powers at be at Pune365 decreed that this column be about the or International Women’s Day.

Which is a blessing twice over, because not only do I not have to think about what to write about, but can enjoy writing about it as well.

And the reason I enjoyed writing about it is because it gave me reason to ask Google a question that I hadn’t thought about before. Why, I asked the URL that knows all there is to know, is Women’s Day celebrated on the 8th of March in particular?

To which the oracle of the Internet had a rather interesting response. The 8th of March, it turns out, wasn’t the original choice for celebrating International Women’s Day. The first time the Yankees celebrated this day, over a hundred years ago, was on the 28th of February. They then celebrated Women’s Day, by general consensus it would seem, on the last Sunday of February, every succeeding year until 1917. Which is kind of puzzling, because the 28th of February, 1908, was a Friday.

Still, that then became the norm until the year 1917, when women in Russia took to the streets to protest a whole litany of things – and the day the did this was the 8th of March, 1917. Since then, most Communist Nations celebrated the 8th of March as International Women’s day, and it became a worldwide phenomenon in 1977.

And to this rather interesting tidbit of information, I would like to add, with your kind permission, two observations.

First, the internet informs me that that first march in Russia, in the year 1917, was to protest the war, and the resultant food shortages. They also were demanding, it turns out, an end to Czarism. All, if you ask me, were entirely reasonable demands: the strike was for “Bread and Peace”, and what could be saner than that request? The second observation is that this would then, in a sense by the 100 year anniversary of that march, and of the year that International Women’s Day became an 8th of March thing, which is a rather neat realization.

There are many miles to go, but we’ve come a long way from demanding bread and peace, and for a century’s worth of International Women’s Days, it’s been a pretty good journey. Here’s to commemorating it!


Ashish Kulkarni

Ashish Kulkarni

Ashish is a confirmed Punekar, which guarantees eternal undying love for the city, but also mandates an incurable sense of cynicism about it.

He doesn't expect the paradox to be resolved in his lifetime
Ashish Kulkarni