United Nations Day for Women's Rights and International Peace


Emblem of International Women's DayInternational Women's Day is celebrated in many countries around the world. It is a day when women are recognized for their achievements without regard to divisions, whether national, ethnic, linguistic, cultural, economic or political. It is an occasion for looking back on past struggles and accomplishments, and more importantly, for looking ahead to the untapped potential and opportunities that await future generations of women.


In 1975, during International Women's Year, the United Nations began celebrating International Women's Day on 8 March. Two years later, in December 1977, the General Assembly adopted a resolution proclaiming a United Nations Day for Women's Rights and International Peace to be observed on any day of the year by Member States, in accordance with their historical and national traditions.


Queen Noor of Jordan, Secretary-General Kofi Annan, 8 March 2004In adopting its resolution on the observance of Women's Day, the General Assembly cited two reasons: to recognize the fact that securing peace and social progress and the full enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms require the active participation, equality and development of women; and to acknowledge the contribution of women to the strengthening of international peace and security.


For the women of the world, the Day's symbolism has a wider meaning: It is an occasion to review how far they have come in their struggle for equality, peace and development. It is also an opportunity to unite, network and mobilize for meaningful change.


For the United Nations, International Women's Day has been observed on 8 March since 1975. The Day is traditionally marked with a message from the Secretary-General. Special events are organized at UN Headquarters in New York (photo: Queen Noor of Jordan speaking on 8 March 2004).


Stamp from Belgium 1990International Women's Day first emerged from the activities of labour movements at the turn of the twentieth century in North America and across Europe.


Since those early years, International Women's Day has assumed a new global dimension for women in developed and developing countries alike. The growing international women's movement, which has been strengthened by four global United Nations women's conferences, has helped make the commemoration a rallying point to build support for women's rights and participation in the political and economic arenas. Increasingly, International Women's Day is a time to reflect on progress made, to call for change and to celebrate acts of courage and determination by ordinary women who have played an extraordinary role in the history of their countries and communities.


Since 1996 a theme has been chosen for Women's Day:


1996   Celebrating the past, planning for the future

1997   Women at the peace table

1998   Women and human rights

1999   World free of violence against women

2000   Women uniting for peace

2001   Women and peace: women managing conflicts

2002   Afghan women today: realities and opportunities

2003   Gender equality and the Millennium Development Goals

2004   Women and HIV/AIDS

2005   Gender equality beyond 2005: building a more secure future

2006   Women in decision-making

2007   Ending impunity for violence against women and girls

2008   Investing in women and girls

2009   Women and men united to end violence against women and girls



Stamp catalogue - 1990


Belgium                                              10 March 1990



Stamp catalogue - 2002


Austria                                                8 March 2002



Stamp catalogue - 2007


Austria                                                8 March 2007

Bangladesh                                          8 March 2007









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last revised: 1 July 2009