International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day

When did International Women’s Day start, and why is it celebrated?

International Women’s Day takes place every year on the 8th of March and it is a global day dedicated to honor women’s rights, celebrating their achievements, raising awareness about women’s equality, lobbying for accelerated gender parity, and fundraising for female-focused charities. But, how did it all start?
In the early 20th century, most women did not work outside the home and, for those who did, the occupational choices were very limited. They usually worked in small industries and factories (in positions such as assembly worker or garment maker) or as domestic workers. The working hours were long and the pay was very low while they remained excluded from the trade unions that started to form around 1850 amongst men. (IWD, 2020)

In 1908, 15’000 American women who worked as garment workers went on a strike, marching through New York City in order to make their voice heard and demand shorter hours, better salaries and voting rights. This event lit the spark, triggering more female-led initiatives and making women fight for their rights. In honor of the anniversary of those strikes, which were ongoing for more than a year, a “National Women’s Day” was celebrated for the first time in the United States on February 28, 1909. (IWD, 2020)

Although Women’s Day had started with action from the women’s labor movement in the U.S., the day took on a revolutionary and international form in 1917 thanks to Russian women, who began a strike for “bread and peace” in response to the death of over 2 million Russian soldiers in World War I. The date women’s strike commenced was Sunday, February 23 on the Julian calendar used in Russia, which on the more popular Gregorian calendar translated to March 8, which we celebrate today. (Haynes, 2019)

What does Finland do to ensure gender equality?

First, some interesting facts (Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, 2022):

  • Finland was the first country in the world to extend the right to vote and stand for elections to all women in 1906. 
  • Finland was the first country to elect women into Parliament in 1907. 
  • Women and men are equally represented in the Finnish labor market. 
  • Discrimination based upon gender, gender identity and expression of gender is prohibited by law.
  • A law grants fathers to share parental leave with the mother. 
  • The level of education of women is higher than that of men.
  • The Names Act, under which a woman getting married may keep her surname and the surname of either parent can be given to a child.

According to the Gender Equality Index, performed by the European Institute of Gender Equality, Finland (with 75.3 out of 100 points) ranked 5th amongst the EU for gender equality in 2021. However there is still room for improvement as some important issues remain. Overcoming the gender pay gap, eliminating gender stereotypes, minimizing violent acts against women and reverting the lack of females in top corporate positions as well as in research and innovation, are all challenges to work towards.

Women in Today’s World.

It’s important to remember that the term “woman” does not represent only one type of person. It does not have a specific color, a gender, a religion, or a sexual orientation, but it rather reflects and represents everyone who feels like a woman, irrespective of their conformity with today’s social norms (for example, having children). It’s also important to remember that terms and definitions such as “woman” are social constructs to which one can attribute their own meaning based on their experience.

Additionally, recent scientific research suggests that the categorization of humans into two sexes and two genders (male and female), which is deeply embedded in our social norms and we know to be true today, is not actually the case as it is too reductive and simplistic. Brown University professor of biology and gender studies, Anne Fausto-Sterling challenges this notion of binary sex by claiming that no single biological measure able to unshakably place each and every human into one of two categories – male or female – exists (Fausto-Sterling, 2018).

To summarize, it is crucial that people live freely in a way that makes them feel comfortable and with respect for one another. It is us who say collectively what “woman” means, hopefully in ways that center the voices and experiences of all those who live as women, across all our other differences (Stryker, 2020).

A Summary of Women in Finland

According to data and a chart referenced from Statistics Finland, below you can see statistics of how women compare to men in Finland. This chart includes data relating to the pay gap, unemployment and employment rates of women, and other statistical data.

Happy International Women’s Day to all women and let’s look forward to a more equal future. If you feel that you are not being treated equally based on gender, reach out to us, and we can see how we can help. In Finland, women and men have equal rights and discrimination based on gender is illegal.



Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (2022) “Milestones of gender equality” available at:

European Commission (2021) “Gender gap at education level is shrinking, but women are still under-represented in research and innovation” Press Release, Brussels. Available at:

Finland Toolbox (2021) “Finland-Society Committed to Gender Equality”, available at:

European Institute for Gender Equality (2021)“Gender Equality Index”, available at:

Stryker S. (2020) “What Does It Mean to Be a Woman? It’s Complicated”, TIME Magazine available at:

Haynes S. (2019) “The radical Reason Why March 8 is International Women’s Day”, TIME Magazine, available at: 

Fausto-Sterling A. (2018) “Why sex is not binary: The complexity is more than cultural. It’s biological too”  The New York Times , available at:

International Women’s Day “About International Women’s Day”, available at:

International Women’s Day “History of International Women’s Day”, available at:

Striking Women | Women and Work “19th and early 20th century”, available at:

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