International Women’s Day

Today is International Women’s Day. I had originally planned to write about it for today’s entry on A Stamp A Day.  However, I found that I don’t have a single stamp in my collection marking this annual special day. I do have several that commemorated International Women’s Year in 1975 (including the United States and Canada, neither of which have issued a stamp for International Women’s Day). My “rule” on ASAD is that each featured stamp MUST be in my collection so my usual modus operandi when such a thing occurs is to mark it on the calendar for “next year” and then order an appropriate stamp from a dealer on eBay. In doing a search on that site this morning, I discovered a huge variety of stamps and took an interest in seeing how different countries honored women each year. Rather than choose one or two and then wait a year, I have chosen to share many of the stamps I found here on Philatelic Pursuits today where I haven’t placed any “must be in my collection” constraints (or, is that restraints?).

Australia – Scott #3412 (2011) marking the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day

 International Women’s Day (IWD) is celebrated on March 8 every year. It is a focal point in the movement for women’s rights. After the Socialist Party of America organized a Women’s Day on February 28, 1909, in New York, the 1910 International Socialist Woman’s Conference suggested a Women’s Day be held annually. After women gained suffrage in Soviet Russia in 1917, March 8 became a national holiday there. The day was then predominantly celebrated by the socialist movement and communist countries until it was adopted in 1975 by the United Nations.

Today, International Women’s Day is a public holiday in some countries and largely ignored elsewhere. In some places, it is a day of protest; in others, it is a day that celebrates womanhood.

The earliest Women’s Day observance, called “National Woman’s Day,” was held on February 28, 1909 in New York, organized by the Socialist Party of America at the suggestion of Theresa Malkiel. Though there have been claims that the day was commemorating a protest by women garment workers in New York on March 8, 1857, researchers have described this as a myth.

People’s Republic of China – Scott #1587 (2010) – featuring Clara Zetkin

In August 1910, an International Socialist Women’s Conference was organized to precede the general meeting of the Socialist Second International in Copenhagen, Denmark. Inspired in part by the American socialists, German Socialist Luise Zietz proposed the establishment of an annual Women’s Day and was seconded by fellow socialist and later communist leader Clara Zetkin, supported by Käte Duncker, although no date was specified at that conference. Delegates (100 women from 17 countries) agreed with the idea as a strategy to promote equal rights including suffrage for women. The following year on March 19, 1911, IWD was marked for the first time, by over a million people in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland. In the Austro-Hungarian Empire alone, there were 300 demonstrations. In Vienna, women paraded on the Ringstrasse and carried banners honoring the martyrs of the Paris Commune. Women demanded that they be given the right to vote and to hold public office. They also protested against employment sex discrimination. The Americans continued to celebrate National Women’s Day on the last Sunday in February.

German poster for International Women’s Day, March 8, 1914. This poster was banned in the German Empire.

In 1913, Russian women observed their first International Women’s Day on the last Saturday in February (by the Julian calendar then used in Russia).

In 1914, International Women’s Day was held on March 8 in Germany, possibly because that day was a Sunday, and now it is always held on March 8 in all countries. The 1914 observance of the Day in Germany was dedicated to women’s right to vote, which German women did not win until 1918.

In London, there was a march from Bow to Trafalgar Square in support of women’s suffrage on March 8, 1914. Sylvia Pankhurst was arrested in front of Charing Cross station on her way to speak in Trafalgar Square.

Union of Soviet Socialist Republics – Scott #1339 (1949)

On March 8, 1917, on the Gregorian calendar, in the capital of the Russian Empire, Petrograd, women textile workers began a demonstration, covering the whole city. This marked the beginning of the February Revolution, which alongside the October Revolution made up the Russian Revolution. Women in Saint Petersburg went on strike that day for “Bread and Peace” – demanding the end of World War I, an end to Russian food shortages, and the end of czarism. Leon Trotsky wrote, “23 February (8th March) was International Woman’s Day and meetings and actions were foreseen. But we did not imagine that this ‘Women’s Day’ would inaugurate the revolution. Revolutionary actions were foreseen but without date. But in the morning, despite the orders to the contrary, textile workers left their work in several factories and sent delegates to ask for support of the strike… which led to mass strike… all went out into the streets.” Seven days later, the Emperor of Russia, Nicholas II abdicated and the provisional Government granted women the right to vote.

Following the October Revolution, the Bolshevik Alexandra Kollontai and Vladimir Lenin made it an official holiday in the Soviet Union, but it was a working day until 1965. On May 8, 1965, by the decree of the USSR Presidium of the Supreme Soviet International Women’s Day was declared a non-working day in the USSR “in commemoration of the outstanding merits of Soviet women in communistic construction, in the defense of their Fatherland during the Great Patriotic War, in their heroism and selflessness at the front and in the rear, and also marking the great contribution of women to strengthening friendship between peoples, and the struggle for peace. But still, women’s day must be celebrated as are other holidays.”

People’s Republic of China – Scott #405-406 (1959)

From its official adoption in Soviet Russia following the Revolution in 1917, the holiday was predominantly celebrated in communist countries and by the communist movement worldwide. It was celebrated by the communists in China from 1922. After the founding of the People’s Republic of China on October 1, 1949, the State Council proclaimed on December 23 that March 8 would be made an official holiday with women in China given a half-day off.

Communist leader Dolores Ibárruri led a women’s march in Madrid in 1936 on the eve of the Spanish Civil War.

The United Nations began celebrating International Women’s Day in the International Women’s Year, 1975. In 1977, the United Nations General Assembly invited member states to proclaim March 8 as the UN Day for women’s rights and world peace.

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.

Pakistan – Scott #1095 (2007) first day cover

In some countries, such as 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. 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.

Soviet poster: “8th of March is the day of rebellion of the working women against kitchen slavery. Down with the oppression and narrow-mindedness of household work!”

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.

International Women’s Day sparked violence in Tehran, Iran on March 4, 2007, when police beat hundreds of men and women who were planning a rally. A previous rally for the occasion was held in Tehran in 2003. Police arrested dozens of women and some were released after several days of solitary confinement and interrogation. Shadi Sadr, Mahbubeh Abbasgholizadeh and several more community activists were released on March 19, 2007, ending a fifteen-day hunger strike.

Italy – Michel #3246 (2011) oddly, the Scott catalogue doesn’t list this particular stamp (I am not sure why)

In Italy, to celebrate the day, 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 U.S. Congress to propose official recognition of the holiday. In February 1994, H. J. Res. 316 was introduced by Rep. 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.

Women on the street celebrating International Women’s Day in Cameroon. Photo taken by Mbiele Happi on February 11, 2015. Used under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.

As of 2019, International Women’s Day will also be celebrated as a public holiday in the federal state of Berlin, Germany.

The following is listing of International Women’s Day stamps. It is by no means complete, but it is an interesting topical. All images in this article have been sourced from eBay or Wikipedia.

Albania

Albania – Scott #553-554 (1960)

Australia

Australia – Scott #3412 (2011) marking the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day
Australia – Scott #3412 (2011) first day cover

Belgium

Belgium – Scott #1336 (1990) first day cover

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Bosnia and Herzegovina – Scott #616 (2008)
Bosnia and Herzegovina – Scott #616 (2008) miniature sheet of 6, plus 2 center labels

Bosnia and Herzegovina (Croat Administration)

Bosnia and Herzegovina (Croat administration) – Scott #229 (2010)

Bulgaria

Bulgaria – Scott #892 (1955)

Chile

Chile – Scott #1132 (1995) miniature sheet of 4
Chile – Scott #1452 (2006)

People’s Republic of China

People’s Republic of China – Scott #175-176 (1953)
People’s Republic of China – Scott #405-406 (1959)
People’s Republic of China – Scott #1114-1116 (1973) ‘International Working Women’s Day’
People’s Republic of China – Scott #1218-1221 (1975) ‘International Working Women’s Day’ – these stamps depict rural teachers, something near and dear to my heart
People’s Republic of China – Scott #1587 (1980) ‘International Working Women’s Day’ was founded by Clara Zetkin, according to the Chinese Philatelic Agency
People’s Republic of China – Scott #2265 (1990) block of 4

Costa Rica

Costa Rica – Michel #BL82 (2017) miniature sheet of 3

Ecuador

Ecuador – Scott #1565 (2001) Personally, I don’t like it when the Scott catalogue assigns one number to two se-tenant (joined) stamps that are not in a miniature sheet, assigning subletters to the individual stamps; in this case, the top stamp is Scott #1565a while the bottom is #1565b.

Faroe Islands

Faroe Islands – Scott #548 (2011)

France

France – Scott #1861 (1983)
France – Scott #1918 (1984)
France – Scott #4353-4364 (2013) issued in a booklet of 12 stamps titled, “Values of Women, Women of Values” for International Women’s Day
France – miniature sheet (2016) commemorative cover; I couldn’t find this one on Colnect

German Democratic Republic

German Democratic Republic – Scott #233-234 (1955)
German Democratic Republic – Scott #233-234 (1955) first day cover

Greece

Greece – Michel #2985-2986 (2018)
Greece – Michel #2985-2986 (2018) first day cover

Greenland

Greenland – Scott #567 (2010)

Hungary

Hungary – Scott #2911 (1985)

India

India – Scott #2189e (2007) miniature sheet
India – International Women’s Day (2014) special commemorative cover

Italy

Italy – Michel #3426 (2011)
Italy – Michel #3426 (2011) first day cover

Laos

Laos – 1265-1267 (1996)

Macao

Macao – Scott #1308a-1308d (2010) miniature sheet of 16
Macau – Scott #1308a-1308d (2010) first day cover
Macao – Scott #1309 (2010) souvenir sheet
Macao – Scott #1309 (2010) first day cover

Mexico

Mexico – International Women’s Day (1988) special commemorative cover using Scott #1436 World Health Day stamp issued in 1986
Mexico – Scott #2065 (1998) first day cover
Mexico – Scott #2279 (2002) International Women’s Institute
Mexico – Scott #2438 (2005) first day cover
Mexico – Scott #2518 (2006) first day cover

Mongolia

Mongolia – Scott #191-192 (1960)

Pakistan

Pakistan – Scott #1095 (2007)
Pakistan – Scott #1095 (2007) first day cover

Romania

Romania – Scott #1318 (1960) block of 4
Romania – International Women’s Day (1962) postal card

Spain

Spain – Scott #3785 (2011)
Spain – Scott #3785 (2011) first day cover

Union of Soviet Socialist Republics

Union of Soviet Socialist Republics – Scott #1123-1124 (1947)
Union of Soviet Socialist Republics – Scott #1339 (1949)
Union of Soviet Socialist Republics – Scott #2306 (1960) maximum card
Union of Soviet Socialist Republics – International Women’s Day (1964) postal card
Union of Soviet Socialist Republics – Scott #3301 (1967)
Union of Soviet Socialist Republics – Scott #3301 (1960) bock of four
Union of Soviet Socialist Republics – Scott #3705 (1970) ‘International Women’s Solidarity Day’

Uruguay

Uruguay – Scott #1350 (1990); although imprinted with a date of 1989, this was actually issued on June 26, 1990, in sheets of 25 – issued stamp is on the right, two color trial proofs are pictured on the left
Uruguay – International Women’s Day (2018)

Democratic Republic of Vietnam (North Vietnam)

Democratic Republic of Vietnam – Scott #118 (1960)

Yugoslavia

Yugoslavia – Scott #2403 (1998) first day cover

Women’s demonstration for bread and peace – March 8, 1917, Petrograd, Russia. — Hungarian: Nemzetközi Nőnap. A felvétel 1917. március 8-án (a Gergely naptár szerint, az orosz szerint ez a nap február 23-a, az első Nőnapon készült Petrográdban (jelenleg Szentpétervár). Ismeretlen fényképész felvétele. Ezen a napon Oroszországban nők tüntettek. Jelszavukː Kenyeret és békét. A tüntetés előzménye azt volt, hogy a bolsevik Pravdában hetek óta cikksorozat jelent meg a dolgozó nők sanyarú sorsáról. A propaganda kampány csúcspontját a szerkesztők erre a napra időzítették. (Hvg.2017.03.01 – 43.old). A tüntetés után négy nappal II. Miklós cár lemondott, polgári kormány alakult, mely szavazójogot biztosított a nőknek. Ezzel vált véglegessé a nőnap dátuma is. Bár már korábban elhatározták Nőnap tartását, ennek időpontja azonban változó volt. Ezzel a tüntetéssel rögződött a Nemzetközi Nőnap időpontja: március 8-a. — Google Translation (unedited): International Women’s Day. Recording on March 8, 1917 (according to the Gregorian calendar, according to the Russian, this day was February 23, the first Women’s Day was made in Petrograd (currently St. Petersburg). The photograph of an unidentified photographer. The antecedent of the demonstration was that the Bolshevik Pravda had published a series of articles about the fate of working women for weeks. Tsar Nicholas II resigned, a civilian government was formed, which gave women the right to vote, and the date of the Women’s Day became definitive. .
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