International Women’s Day And Germany Posted by on Mar 3, 2021 in Culture

Guten Tag! As Monday 8th March is Internationale Frauentag (International Women’s Day) – and March is Monat der Frauengeschichte (Women’s History Month) -, I thought it’d be interesting to look at how International Women’s Day came about in Germany, whilst teaching you some vocabulary related to the subject. What’s pretty cool is that it was a German woman who suggested Women’s Day be celebrated internationally in the first place.

international women's day

Photo by Omar Lopez on Unsplash.

Der Internationale Frauentag is also referred to in Germany as Weltfrauentag (‘World Women’s Day’), Frauenkampftag (literally ‘Women’s Fight Day’) or Frauentag (‘Women’s Day’).

Die Welt – the world
Die Frauen – the women
Der Kampf – the fight
Der Tag – the day

A brief history of International Women’s Day

The first Women’s Day came about in 1909 in New York, organised by die Sozialistische Partei Amerikas (the Socialist Party of America). The year before, in 1908, thousands of women had marched in the streets for better pay (die Behazlung) and the right to vote (das Wahlrecht), and it was from the strength of this that the national day came about the following year.

Then, in 1910, speaking at a women’s conference in Kopenhagen (Copenhagen), a German activist named Clara Zetkin suggested making Women’s Day an international affair. Her suggestion was accepted, and the following year saw the first International Women’s Day! It was then celebrated for the first time in Germany, Austria, Denmark, and Switzerland on March 19th, before being moved to March 8th a few years later.

Who was Clara Zetkin?

Clara Zetkin was a German activist (der Aktivist / die Aktivistin) and an advocate for women’s rights (die Frauenrechte). She was a member of the Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands (Socialist Democratic Party of Germany), and the editor of their newspaper, die Gleichheit (‘Equality’) for a time. She was also a member of the German Communist Party (Kommunistische Partei Deutschlands). She was anti-war, and was arrested several times for organising anti-war conferences and generally speaking out against it.


international women's day

de:Benutzer:Sewa, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons


Zetkin is remembered as a prominent person in the fight for women’s rights in Germany. Her face was printed on the DDR’s ten Mark bank note and twenty Mark coin (the currency of the former East Germany); she has several streets named after her; there are various memorials dedicated to her; and various awards are given in her honour.

Here is a memorial plaque outside her former home. Can you figure out what it says?

international women's day

Klara Zetkin’s house in Jena – Frauemacht, CC BY-SA 4.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons


Other, note-worthy German women you might enjoy reading about on our blog are Sophie Scholl, co-founder of the anti-Nazi party Weiße Rose, and die Trümmerfrauen – ‘the rubble women’ who re-built Germany following WW2.

You might also enjoy reading the following posts related to women, women’s rights, and feminism in Germany:

How The German Word ‘Fräulein’ Disappeared
Is the German language sexist?
100 Years of Women’s Suffrage in Germany


Alles Gute zum Frauentag!
With best wishes for Women’s Day!


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About the Author: Constanze

Servus! I'm Constanze and I live in the UK. I'm half English and half German, and have been writing about German language and culture on this blog since 2014. I am also a fitness instructor & personal trainer.

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