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Auguri per la Festa della Donna! Today is la Giornata Internazionale della DonnaInternational Women’s Day-originally known as International Working Women’s Day. There is no one specific organization or event behind International Women’s Day, but it is celebrated in many countries around the world. It is a collective day to celebrate the achievements of women and a call to action towards gender equality.

The early 1900’s were a time of great unrest for women, who did not yet have the right to vote.  In New York in 1908, 15,000 women marched for better pay and shorter hours. The following year, on February 28th, the Socialist Party of America held the first National Women’s Day, which was observed until 1913.  In 1910, an international conference of working women was held in Copenhagen.  It was proposed that each year on the same day, every country would have a Women’s Day. The first International Women’s Day was held on March 19th in 1911 in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland as well as rallies campaigning for women’s rights to work and vote.  Unfortunately, a week later in New York, 146 women were killed or jumped to their deaths in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire.  The women were mostly Jewish and Italian immigrants.  The exit doors had been locked to prevent unauthorized breaks! This horrible event brought attention to working conditions and was the focus of future International Women’s Day events.

Russian women held a strike for bread and peace in 1917 in response to Russia’s losses in the war, and following this they were given the right to vote.  The date translated to March 8th on the Gregorian calendar (that’s the one we use!) and this has been the date for International Women’s Day ever since.

International Women’s Day was first celebrated by the United Nations in 1975, and in 1977 the UN General Assembly invited member countries to proclaim March 8th as UN Day for Women’s rights and world peace.

In Italia, the symbol for IWD is yellow Mimosa flowers (Acacia Dealbata).  This was started in 1946 by Teresa Mattei and Rita Montagnana, activists fighting for women’s equality. They felt that the symbols used in France, violets and Lily of the valley, were too scarce, making them too expensive to use in Italia.  Mimosa flowers bloom in early March.  The pillowy yellow flowers look delicate and fragile, but are actually very resilient and able to resist harsh conditions.  Good qualities for an symbol for women! Originally women gave small Mimosa bouquets to each other.

For those with pollen allergies, there is now also Torta Mimosa, a cake that resembles the flower, and chocolates and cookies.  My amica Anna photographed these lovely torte yesterday at Dolci Desideri on Via Gozzi in Roma.

Just like Valentine’s Day, not everyone likes the idea of a ‘Women’s Day’ because love and respect need to be shown more than once a year.  I agree every day should be a giornata della donna, but I also think any excuse to be extra nice to someone is a good thing!  Auguri a tutte le donne!

Ciao, Cristina

Photo credits-Cover photo Wikimedia Commons, Torta Mimosa photos Anna Ambrosini

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