Since 100 years: 8 March as International Women’s Day

7. März 2021

Since the II International Conference of Communist Women in 1921, 8 March has been celebrated as an International Day of Action for Equal Rights for Women. As early as 1910, at the suggestion of Clara Zetkin, the International Women’s Congress in Stuttgart had decided on an annual day of agitation for women’s suffrage. This was realized in numerous countries with the October Revolution in Russia and the November Revolution in Germany. In commemoration of the strike of the Petrograd women in 1917, the prelude of the February revolution, the international women’s day was fixed in 1921 now on 8 March.

The FIR and its member federations take this date as an opportunity to remember the great contribution of women in all countries to the anti-fascist resistance struggle. Their role was as varied as the political life of the resistance struggle. Only a few examples may be mentioned:

Everyone knows the great woman of the Spanish Republic, Dolores Ibárruri Gómez called La Pasionaria. She was president of the Spanish Cortes. With her speeches, she brought many Spaniards, especially women, to the side of the Republicans. From her came the slogan “¡No pasarán!” (“They will not pass!”). She had to go into exile in 1939 and did not return to Spain – politically unbroken – until 1977.

Women fought in the ranks of the armed partisan units. The partisan groups of the Albanian and Yugoslavian liberation armies had their own women’s battalions.

Women also fought in the ranks of the partisans in the Soviet Union. Probably the most famous figure is Zoia Kosmodemjanskaya. After successful operations behind the front lines, she was captured at the age of 18, tortured, and publicly executed on November 29, 1941. When this became known, Soviet soldiers wrote on their bombs and tanks as they advanced westward, “For Zoia.”

The Jewish poet Hirsch Glik set an artistic monument to the Lithuanian partisan Vitka Kempner in the song “Schtil, di nacht is ojsgeschternt”.

Women were involved in all illegal structures of the resistance organizations. Their role was also significant in the stage, in the distribution of anti-fascist material and in the supply. Moreover, they performed tasks that were impossible for men. For example, in occupied France, women specifically made contact with occupation soldiers to obtain information for the fighting units of the Maquis.

Moreover, we do not forget the many thousands of women who were plundered, mistreated and murdered by the fascist regime not only in the Ravenbrück concentration camp, but also in the countless subcamps of all concentration camps and as forced laborers.

This palmary role of women in the anti-fascist struggle has not always been honored in the due form in former decades. Therefore, it is all the more important that in today’s time – and especially in passing on the history of the anti-fascist resistance of the people – we make clear the role of all women for common action.

Anti-fascism is not a question of gender. However, it is one of the foundations of anti-fascist conviction to stand up for full equality and appreciation of the significant contribution of women in anti-fascist action then and now.

In this sense, we congratulate all women to the 100th anniversary of the International Women’s Day, wish them “bread and roses” and assure them that this day is for the FIR and its member federations an obligation for today and tomorrow.