International Women’s Day is a global event that recognises the social, political and economic successes of women from around the world. The origins of the celebration can be traced back to the early 1900’s, a period when demonstrations against womens’ working conditions were being held across North America and Europe. In 1909, for example, The Socialist Party of America organised a National Woman’s day on 28 February to pay tribute to the garment workers’ strike that took place in New York the previous year. However, the idea for a celebration of women on an international scale was actually suggested the following year in 1910 at a meeting held by The Socialist International in Copenhagen. It was during this meeting that an International Women’s Day was proposed as a way of recognising the movement for women’s rights and to generate further support for the universal suffrage of women. In 1913 International Women’s Day was officially moved to March 8th and it continues to be celebrated on this day around the world.
Present day International Women’s day celebrates the achievements of women of all nationalities, races and religions and also aims to advance gender equality across the globe. The celebrations are a collaborative effort, with many governments, NGO’s, charities and associations organising events to mark the occasion. Each year the festivities adopt a different theme, and events often involve performances, talks, conferences and rallies. This year, International Women’s day is using the theme – “Press for Progress” to highlight the importance of progressing women’s rights and gender equality.
For the Afghanistan and Central Asian Association International Women’s day is particularly important, as the event symbolises many of the values that our organisation supports- such as the empowerment of women and the progression of women’s rights. The ACAA has established many projects and services that are dedicated specifically to assist women such as the Women’s Tea Corner which offers weekly workshops to improve language abilities, discuss current affairs and reinforce the importance of women in the wider community. In addition, our regular legal clinics provide women with the free legal support and counseling.
This year, the ACAA hosted a community celebration in honour of International Women’s Day to demonstrate our commitment for the empowerment and progress of women’s rights. The event was a true success with people from all backgrounds in attendance coming together to enjoy music and dancing performances as well as delicious meals ,and activities. Children were encouraged to take part in a poetry writing competition with themes relevant to International Women’s Day. Other activities included free henna designs and face painting. Some of the talented and notable performers of the night included Jalal Azizi, Ziba Tabrizi, Pryanka and Debanjali and dancers from the Tamil Centre, who lit up the room with their performances. Many of the young children dressed up for the occasion, in an array of bright and colourful dresses, twirling alongside Ziba as she performed cultural dances. The atmosphere remained positive and cheerful throughout the night with guests, entertainers, volunteers helping to cultivate a leisurely ambience.