Women’s Day in Germany: Only one federal state makes it a public holiday

March 8, or International Women’s Day, is officially a public holiday, free from work, starting in 2019. However, the new regulations apply only to one German state, namely Berlin. A year earlier, other federal states introduced additional public holidays. For example, states in northern Germany decided to make Reformation Day a public holiday, and in Thuringia World Children’s Day was declared such a day.

International Women’s Day in Germany

International Women’s Day in 2022 falls on Tuesday, March 8, 2022. In Germany, this day usually features events organized by the German Confederation of Trade Unions (DGB). Of course, this year’s Women’s Day is also marked by the coronavirus pandemic. The crisis is hitting women particularly hard. The DGB and its member unions are drawing attention to this on the occasion of International Women’s Day, which falls on March 8. The current crisis is exacerbating inequalities between men and women. Women in particular carry out systemically important and at the same time underpaid work. During the crisis, they are particularly affected by the loss of income they experience through time off work, part-time work and unemployment. They take over most of the household and family work, reducing their working hours in return.

History of International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day has its roots in the movement of working-class women in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It is not entirely clear when or where the idea of a political “day of women’s struggle” was born. But the fact is that in many countries, beginning in the late 19th century, women’s and workers’ movements demanded the establishment of a day on which women would campaign nationally or globally for equal rights, higher wages and better working conditions for women, as well as for women’s suffrage and the fight against discrimination.

German socialist politician and women’s rights activist Clara Zetkin proposed the introduction of an international women’s day on August 27, 1910, at the Second International Socialist Women’s Conference in Copenhagen. She had not yet proposed a specific date. After the Second International Socialist Women’s Conference, “International Women’s Day” was celebrated for the first time the following year, 1911: initially in four European countries (Denmark, Germany, Austria, Switzerland), as well as in the USA. However, this first official International Women’s Day was not held on March 8, as it is today, but on March 19, 1911. The main demand was active and passive suffrage for women. Over a million women took to the streets on that first International Women’s Day. Just one year later, in 1912, women in several other countries took part in demonstrations to mark International Women’s Day.

Why is Women’s Day celebrated on March 8?

How it came to be that March 8 eventually became the date of International Women’s Day – there are various interpretations of this. On March 8, 1917 (February 23 by the Julian calendar in Russia), strikes began by women living in the poor neighborhoods of Petrograd. These protests were one of the impulses for the February Revolution in Russia. In honor of these striking and protesting women in Petrograd, March 8 was reportedly established as an international day of remembrance at the “Second International Conference of Communist Women in 1921” in Moscow, at the request of the Bulgarian delegation.

In 1975, the United Nations established March 8 as “Women’s Rights and World Peace Day.”

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