International Women’s Day was first celebrated in the early 20th century in several nations, organized by various different groups and coinciding with a period of rapid growth for many different women’s rights organizations and movements. In 1908, the women’s committee of the American Socialist Party designated February 28 as a National Woman’s Day. In 1911, at the Second International Conference of Socialist Women in Copenhagen, European socialist leaders proposed that an International Women’s Day be recognized March 8 of the following year. Early on, the holiday was explicitly concerned with class and women workers; although the Conference of Socialist Women declared that its "foremost purpose [must] be to aid the attainment of women’s suffrage", delegate Alexandra Kollontai, justifying the need for such a day, wrote in a 1913 Pravda article:
What is the aim of the feminists? Their aim is to achieve the same advantages, the same power, the same rights within capitalist society as those possessed now by their husbands, fathers and brothers. What is the aim of the women workers? Their aim is to abolish all privileges deriving from birth or wealth…
Let a joyous sense of serving the common class cause and of fighting simultaneously for their own female emancipation inspire women workers to join in the celebration of Women’s Day.
The widespread commemoration of International Women’s Day waned in some countries after the 1920s and 30s, although the Soviet Union and People’s Republic of China each declared that it be celebrated as a national holiday. The upsurge in feminist activity in the 1960s and 70s also marked, in the Western world, the mainstream rediscovery of the event, which the United Nations adopted as an official commemorative day in 1977.
The theme for International Women’s Day 2014 commemorations, as set by the United Nations, is “Equality for women is progress for all.”