On March 8, women around the world will celebrate International Women’s Day. This day commemorates ordinary women and their struggle for equal rights.

In honour of the special day, we offer a brief chronology of how this observance came about:

1857: On March 8, women garment and textile workers in New York City stage a protest against inhumane working conditions, long hours and low wages. The marchers are attacked and dispersed by police. Two years later, again in March, these women form their first union.

1908: On March 8, 15,000 women march through New York City demanding shorter hours, better pay, voting rights and an end to child labour. They adopt the slogan “Bread and Roses,” with bread symbolizing economic security and roses a better quality of life. In May, the Socialist Party of America designates the last Sunday in February for the observance of National Women’s Day.

1909: The first National Women’s Day is observed across the United States on February 28. Soon, women in Europe begin celebrating Women’s Day on the last Sunday of February.

1911 : On March 25, more than 140 working girls, mostly Italian and Jewish immigrants, die in the tragic Triangle Fire, an event that will have a far-reaching effect on labour legislation in the U.S.

1917: Russian women call for a strike on February 23 for “bread and peace,” protesting against poor living conditions and food shortages. This date, the last Sunday of the month according to the Julian calendar then in use in Russia, falls on March 8 on the Georgian calendar, widely used in most European countries and in the Americas.

1977: In December, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopts a resolution proclaiming a UN Day for Women’s Rights and International Peace to be observed by member states, in accordance with their historical and national traditions.