La Festa della Donna
INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY – 8th MARCH
The 8th of March International Women’s Day and Italian men are going to celebrate it with the traditional gift of yellow mimosas to Italy’s lovely women.
This civil holiday was born as a political event, and over the course of years blended into the culture of many countries, to the point that in some celebrations, the day lost its political flavour, and became simply an occasion for men to express their love to the women around them.
Women’s Day has its roots in two events that took place outside of Italy. On March 8, 1857 a strike by garment workers in New York led to the formation of the first women’s union in the United States. Sixty years later, Russian women led a strike calling for “bread and peace” during the twin horrors of World War I and the Russian Revolution. In 1945 the Union of Italian Women declared that this special date, March the 8th, should be set aside to celebrate womanhood across the country.
The very first celebration of a “Women’s Day” on March 8th in Italy happened in 1946 and was organized by UDI (Unione Donne Italiane, now Unione Donne in Italia, Italian Women Union) in 1946.
On March 8th, 1946 Italy was just out of war, the foreign occupation was over, but the country was still not a republic. Women had obtained the right to vote but had not yet had an opportunity to exercise it (they will need to wait until June 6th, 1946 on the occasion of the referendum for Italian citizens to choose between the kingdom and a new republic). Many women, however, had been very important actors in the resistance movement during the war, fighting against fascism and the foreign occupation.
velvet flowers… we thought that mimosas were abundant and available at almost no cost…” (said a witness to the discussion on the organization of the first March 8th celebration in Italy).Since then women, many of them from the left-wing movement but not only, pressed by the Italian Women’s Union and by the trade unions, have been filling in Italian squares and streets to demonstrate and point out to the government and to the public opinion the urgent problems that need to be faced to change their status and condition, with a view to liberate themselves from the oppression of a male dominated society. Women’s Day was then nourished and shared by the feminist movement in the 70’s and by women delegates in trade unions.