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On September 19 1893 New Zealand became the first country in the world to give women the right to vote. Women in other countries campaigned for justice for many years.

In 1910 a second International Conference of Working Women was held in Copenhagen. A woman named Clara Zetkin (Leader of the 'Women's Office' for the Social Democratic Party in Germany) proposed the idea of an International Women's Day, which was launched the following year on March 19.

Two new journals appeared the week before International Women's Day: The Vote for Women in Germany and Women's Day in Austria. Various articles, such as 'Women and Parliament', 'The Working Women and Municipal Affairs', 'What Has the Housewife got to do with Politics?' were devoted to International Women's Day. All articles emphasized that it was absolutely necessary to make parliament more democratic by giving women more decision power.

Success of the first International Women's Day in 1911 exceeded all expectation. Meetings were organized everywhere in small towns and even the villages halls were packed so full that male workers were asked to give up their places for women. Men stayed at home with their children for a change, and their wives, the captive housewives, went to meetings.

In 1913 International Women's Day was changed to March 8.

Today, many countries still celebrate International Women’s Day. In Italy, as in many parts of Europe, women receive flowers (usually yellow Mimosa) both at home and at work; from the significant ones, their employers and fellow employees, and from their male friends. At night, they join their friends for a women-only night on the town, while all the men stay home and take care of children and housework.

Unfortunately, women are not treated equally and respectfully everywhere; International Women’s Day is a date often chosen to increase awareness of different types of injustice women and girls – especially poor, vulnerable ones – still suffer daily. According to Amnesty International, for example, the rape of women and young girls in Cambodia appears to be increasing, while victims face social alienation and no justice. The report, released on Monday, reveals that corruption and discrimination within the police and the courts has often prevented survivors from seeking justice and medical treatment, and that the perpetrators went largely unpunished.

Women around the world are doing what they can to reach out to other women. Diane von Furstenberg, fashion designer and president of the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA), released Proud to be Woman, a compilation CD to benefit Vital Voices, an organization dedicated to empowering women worldwide. The CD features female artists such as Joss Stone, Mary J. Blige, Estelle, Bebel Gilberto, Christina Aguilera, Angelique Kidjo, Mozella and Annie Lenox, among others. The CD sells for $15.99 and will be sold at DVF boutiques worldwide, and on iTunes.
Not all of us are part of large organizations, but each of us can do a little to help improve the living conditions of women around us. To all the ladies in my life, I wish to say: Happy Women’s Day, this world is just a little nicer because you are a part of it.

Some of the information in this post was found at:

Note: Starting today, I will be interacting with readers at my new live chat site, Sandra’s Café, at: .

I will be there every morning, M-F between 6:30am and 8:30am EST. I hope to “see” you there!

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