International Women's Month, observed around the world every March, is a month-long celebration in honor of all women and their contributions to society, culture, business, and politics. It was originally observed every March 8 as Women's Day, as recognized by the United Nations (UN) in 1975 and enacted in the President Corazon C. Aquino in 1988. The day has since become the highlight of women-related events and activities in the country.
Between 1909 and 1911, working women in the U.S. participated in demonstrations organized chiefly by the National Women’s Trade Union League and supported by other concerned groups. The demonstrations were an offshoot of the tragic 25 March 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire in New York City, which took the lives of more than 140 working women. The fire was seen as an indicator of the inhumane working conditions and other unfair labor practices that the women workers faced.
In Europe, Clara Zetkin and the Socialist Women’s International Conference demanded that March 8th be the International Women’s Day not only as commemoration of the women workers who died in the New York fire, but more importantly as recognition of all working women around the world. The celebration of International Women’s Day has since stimulated major historical events, such as the general strike which began the Russian Revolution in St. Petersburg in 1917, where 10,000 women textile workers demonstrated against unfair working conditions and labor practices.
Because of such a rich history of women organizing, International Women’s Day was officially recognized by the United Nations to celebrate women’s contributions in all spheres of development, across different cultures. In 1975, the U.N. formally designated March 8 to be the day of celebration of achievements of all women around the world.
Women's Month in the Philippines
In the Philippines, President Corazon C. Aquino signed Proclamation No. 224 on 1 March 1988, “Declaring the First Week of March of Every Year as Women’s Week and March 8, 1988 and Every Year Thereafter as Women’s Rights and International Peace Day.” On 17 March 1988, she signed Proclamation No. 227, “Providing for the Observance of the Month of March as Women’s Role in History Month,” which designated the National Commission on the Role of Filipino Women (NCRFW) as the secretariat to coordinate its nationwide observance. On 10 April 1990, she signed Republic Act No. 6949, “An Act to Declare March Eight of Every Year as a Special Working Holiday to be Known as National Women’s Day,” to encourage employees from the government and private sector to participate in Women's Day activities.
The celebration has become an occasion for meetings and discussions on various gender-related issues, with activities such as Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, the Beijing Platform for Action, the Millennium Development Goals (2000-2015), the Philippine Plan for Gender-Responsive Development (1995-2025), and the Framework Plan for Women.
In 2010, the Philippine Women's Month's theme is “Babae, Tagumpay Ka ng Bayan!” It underscores a woman's competence to overcome challenges and achieve something big not just for herself but for the society she moves in. Such feat includes the enactment of the Magna Carta of Women (a comprehensive women’s human rights law which serves as the national translation of the UN CEDAW, the International Bill of Rights for Women) and the achievements in the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action (BPFA) and those related to the Millennium Development Goals (MDG).