International Women’s Day is today taking place in the whole of Germany. There are events, workshops and demonstrations concerning women’s rights, female quote within companies and women within Islam among others. However, the feelings, awareness and perception for International Women’s Day differ between women who grew up in East and West Germany. The women in East Germany give the day a much higher importance and value than the women in the West. How can be there such a difference?

The historical background in Germany

In 1911, International Women's Day was celebrated in Germany for the first time.

And it was next to Switzerland, Denmark and Austro-Hungary, one of the first countries. Later from 1933 until 1945 under the regime of Hitler, International Women’s Day was forbidden due to its Socialist background and was replaced by Mother’s Day.

Divided Germany

After 1945, Mother’s Day was abolished in East Germany and the Soviet Occupation Zone instead reintroduced International Women’s Day. In contrast, Mother’s Day was kept in West Germany but International Women’s Day was also reintroduced in 1948. However, until the 1980’s International Women’s Day was more or less unknown in West Germany and the day increasingly lost its meaning. The women did not pay attention and the families celebrated Mother’s Day much more.

Whereas, the women in East Germany received flowers at home, were offered coffee, cake and sparkling wine at work on the 8th March. In West Germany only around the 1980’s International Women’s Day became more known. However, still today it receives criticism from key figures in the feminist movement like Alice Schwarzer, who called for its abolishment in 2008.


Since the reunification of Germany, the celebrations for International Women’s Day changed again. Today it is also well known in West Germany, however, it remains a day to talk about women’s rights, rather than a celebration. In contrast, women in East Germany take the weekend off in order to go with their friends to a spa, to meet for dinner and celebrate this day like it should be.

They take the day as an opportunity to to do something for themselves.

Today I will begin to celebrate this year like a women grown up after the reunification being aware that I am a woman that is able to fight for rights and as well take it as an opportunity to do something nice.