International Woman’s Day


Hannah Wyman, Editorial Board

“I believe that it is as much a right and duty for women to do something with their lives as for men and we are not going to be satisfied with such frivolous parts as you give us.” -Louisa May Alcott.

AZERBAIJAN — Walking down the streets, many people with beautiful flowers and gifts in their hands can be seen. Passing by florist shops one can see that they are overflowing with amazingly beautiful flower arrangements. Women rush by on the street clutching gift bags with names of obscure designers. This is what the days surrounding March 8 are like in Azerbaijan.

March 8 marks International Women’s Day. For some, this day is much like National Taco Day or Wear a Raincoat Day, it is nothing than a mere hashtag trending on Twitter. However, for many others, Women’s Day is a very important and actively celebrated holiday.

On this day, women of all kind are recognized and congratulated by their fellow family members, classmates, friends, co-workers, etc. The day is not only a celebration but also a great occasion to let all women know that we celebrate and feel their importance in our lives. Celebrations can be anything from general celebration of respect to appreciation and love towards women for their economic, political, and social achievements.

International Women’s Day is currently an official holiday in countries such as Azerbaijan, Afghanistan, Armenia, Belarus, Cambodia, China, Cuba, Georgia, Guinea-Bissau, Eritrea, Kazakhstan, Madagascar, Moldova, Mongolia,  Nepal, Russia, Uganda, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, and Zambia.

In Azerbaijan, Women’s Day is a huge deal. Huge. On March 8, there is no school because of the holiday. On the day before the eighth, my fellow male classmates brought in presents and gifts for their teachers and other students. Both my sister, Eve, and I received gifts even though we were not expecting it at all. All girls were given things such as scarves, and books, and flowers, and sweets. As I was sitting in the library, a group of boys came in to give a large bouquet of roses to the librarian. Everywhere I went people were wishing each other a Happy Women’s Day.

Women’s Day can be compared to Mother’s day for they are similar. Men give their wives, sisters, daughters, and mothers gifts like cards, poetry, flowers, clothing, cake, and many other things. It is not uncommon for school children to bring flowers and other gifts to their female teachers and classmates. Even a boss can get his female employees gifts for Women’s Day. In Azeri society, many of a women’s  household chores and responsibilities are taken care of by her family members as part of the tradition to leave her with a day of rest. No woman will go unnoticed or unrecognized.

It is no surprise that Azerbaijan celebrates so fervently. In Azerbaijani culture, women play a large role in society. They are a very important figure not only in the house but also the workplace. Women are the epitome of tenderness, care, and wisdom and are considered as a protector of the household. In fact, Azerbaijan was the first Muslim-majority country to grant women the right to vote in 1918.

Women’s day was a day mainly celebrated by socialist and communist countries until 1977 when the United Nations officially recognized and adopted the holiday. Ever since then, the UN has issued a theme of the year for International Women’s Day. This year’s theme is “Women in the Changing World of Work: Planet 50-50 by 2030.”

In the past, Women’s Day has helped women around the world protest and rally together. In fact, International Women’s Day became a mechanism for protesting World War I. As part of the peace movement, Russian women observed their first International Women’s Day on the last Sunday in February. Elsewhere in Europe, women held rallies either to protest the war or to express solidarity with other activists.

This year, women will use March 8 as “A Day Without a Woman.” This strike is the latest effort by organizers of the widely attended Women’s March on Washington in January. On A Day Without a Woman, women are urged to take the day off from “paid and unpaid labor.” People are also asked to avoid shopping for one day (with exceptions for small, women- and minority-owned businesses) and to wear red in solidarity with A Day Without a Woman. Their website reads, “In the same spirit of love and liberation that inspired the Women’s March, we join together in making March 8th A Day Without a Woman, recognizing the enormous value that women of all backgrounds add to our socio-economic system–while receiving lower wages and experiencing greater inequities, vulnerability to discrimination, sexual harassment, and job insecurity. We recognize that trans and gender nonconforming people face heightened levels of discrimination, social oppression, and political targeting. We believe in gender justice.”

However you spend March 8, take the time to recognize the women who’ve come before you and those who surround you.

For more information see

A Day Without a Woman:

UN International Women’s Day:

International Women’s Day:

(Also side note: There is indeed a Men’s Day. It is on the 19th of November. So don’t get triggered.)

Advisor Note:  Hannah Wyman is a junior at GM and a chief member of the Lancer Ledger editorial board.  She is currently studying abroad in Azerbaijan, which is a country in the South Caucasus region, situated at the crossroads of Southwest Asia and Southeastern Europe.