Celebrations around the world
The day is an official holiday in Afghanistan, Angola, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, China (for women only), Cuba, Georgia, Guinea-Bissau, Eritrea, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Madagascar (for women only), Moldova, Mongolia, Nepal, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, and Zambia.
In some countries, such as Australia, Cameroon, Croatia, Romania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria and Chile, the day is not a public holiday, but is widely observed nonetheless.
On this day it is customary for men to give the women in their lives– friends, mothers, wives, girlfriends, daughters, colleagues, etc.– flowers and small gifts (although to many this seems cloyingly old-fashioned and rather to miss the point). In some countries (such as Bulgaria and Romania) it is also observed as an equivalent of Mother’s Day, where children also give small presents to their mothers and grandmothers. In Russia, the day has lost all political context through the time, becoming simply a day to honor women and feminine beauty.
In the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic, huge Soviet-style celebrations were held annually. After the fall of Communism, the holiday, generally considered to be one of the major symbols of the old regime, fell into obscurity. International Women’s Day was re-established as an official “important day” by the Parliament of the Czech Republic in 2004 on the proposal of the Social Democrats and Communists. This has provoked some controversy as a large part of the public as well as the political right see the holiday as a relic of the nation’s Communist past.
The day is widely celebrated in France, as Journée internationale des femmes. To celebrate the day in Italy, men give yellow mimosas to women. Communist politician Teresa Mattei chose the mimosa in 1946 as the symbol of IWD in Italy because she felt that the French symbols of the day, violets and lily-of-the-valley, were too scarce and expensive to be used effectively in Italy.
In the United States, actress and human rights activist Beata Pozniak worked with the Mayor of Los Angeles and the Governor of California to lobby members of the US Congress to propose official recognition of the holiday. In February 1994, by Beata Pozniak suggestion, the H. J. Res. 316 was introduced by Representative Maxine Waters, along with 79 cosponsors, in an attempt to officially recognize March 8 of that year as International Women’s Day. The bill was subsequently referred to, and remained in, the House Committee on Post Office and Civil Service. No vote of either house of Congress was achieved on this piece of legislation.
Since 2019, International Women’s Day has also been celebrated as a public holiday in the federal state of Berlin, Germany.
In Pakistan, the Aurat March has challenged misogyny since 2018.