Women's Day 2018 and 2019
Ukraine celebrates Women’s Day on 8 March each year. The holiday first appeared in the United States in the early 1900’s and was organised to commemorate the strike of the International Ladies Garment Workers. In 2018, Women’s Day falls on a Wednesday.
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In 1909, garment workers laboured for more than 65 hours each week, sometimes working until dawn during peak seasons. They were often required to provide their own needles, thread, irons and even sewing machines.
Women were paid less than men and employees were charged for their clothes lockers, chairs and were fined for minor infractions. In some factories, women were required to use outside toilets. To prevent work interruption, doors exiting the building were locked and employees required permission from a foreman to open it.
On 22 November, 1909, garment workers gathered to discuss the disadvantages and dangers of their workplaces. For four hours, Clara Lemlich rose and declared that workers should go on strike, earning a standing ovation. On the 24th of November, 15,000 shirtwaist workers walked out of the factories with more joining them the next day.
The strike lasted until February 1910 when factory owners agreed to better pay, shorter hours and equal treatment of employees. After the strike, Clara Lemlich became the face of the labour movement as the strike became an important milestone for the cause.
In 1910, International Women’s Day was declared during a meeting of the Socialist Second International in Denmark. Russian women celebrated their first International Women’s Day in 1913 on the last Sunday in February. It is unclear why the holiday was moved to the 8th of March, but it has become an important holiday in Ukraine.
Celebrations and Traditions
Women are celebrated on Women’s Day with gifts and flowers. Many restaurants offer special events, some so popular that advanced reservations must be made. Clubs also offer free or reduced price entrance for women on Women’s Day. Because it is a public holiday, schools, banks and government offices are closed.
Over the years, Women’s Day has been associated with spring, love and positive thoughts. Men are expected to give gifts, greeting cards and sweets to all the women who are important in their lives, including grandmothers, mothers, wives and sisters. Women are given the day “off” with men preparing meals and performing routine household duties. Gifts may include jewellery, kitchen utensils, appliances, books or candies.