National Women’s Day in Belgium Date in the current year: November 11, 2024

National Women’s Day in Belgium National Women’s Day (Nationale Vrouwendag) is observed in Belgium on November 11 every year. The annual campaign is organized by Furia, a Flemish feminist action group that strives for an inclusive and supporting society without poverty, inequality, and discrimination.

Furia was founded as the Women’s Consultation Committee (Vrouwen Overleg Komitee, VOK) in 1972 by a group of Belgian feminists led by Lily Boeykens, Rita Mulier, and Ireen Daenen. The inaugural National Women’s Day was one of its first events. It was held on November 11, 1972 so that Simone de Beauvoir, a famous French feminist activist, could attend.

The event took place at Passage 44 in Brussels and was attended by an estimated 10,000 people. Due to its high attendance, the inaugural National Women’s Day attracted much attention from both the press and public. The program comprised information stands, meetings with feminist activists, and various performances (singing, dancing, mime, street theater). Notable speakers included de Beauvoir, Australian feminist Germaine Greer, and Dutch feminists Joke Smit, Henny de Swaan-Roos, and Hedy d’Ancona.

The theme of the first National Women’s Day was V Day, with V standing for “Vrede, Vrouw, Verzet, Vrijheid en Victorie” (“Peace, Women, Resistance, Freedom and Victory”). The event focused on raising awareness about women in all social areas, as well as sex education and abortion. It also highlighted the need for international cooperation between women’s rights organizations.

In the years that followed, the VOK continued to organize National Women’s Day events to raise awareness of important topics and issues, ranging from equal pay and women in politics to abortion and LGBT rights. Every year, a new Belgian city or town was chosen to host the event. Host cities have included Aarschot, Antwerp, Berchem, Bruges, Brussels, Ghent, Hasselt, Kortrijk, Leuven, Mechelen, Ostend, Sint-Niklaas, Turnhout, and Ypres.

Today, Belgium is doing quite well in terms of women’s rights and gender equality. As of 2023, it ranked 5th in the European Union on the Gender Equality Index with 76.0 points out of 100. The country’s best performance was in the domain of money (gender inequalities in access to financial resources), and its lowest performance was in the domain of time (time spent doing domestic work, caring for children and other family members who cannot take care of themselves, engaging in social activities). These days, the primary goal of National Women’s Day is to highlight the progress that has been made and to remind that there’s always room for improvement.

It should be noted that Belgian Women’s Day coincides with Armistice Day, a public holiday commemorating the end of World War I. Due to this, Women’s Day events may be overshadowed by Armistice Day events such as wreath-laying ceremonies at monuments and commemorative parades. Nevertheless, feminist NGOs, unions, movements, and various solidarity groups organize marches and other events across Belgium to promote equality, fairness, justice, and human rights.

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National Women’s Day in Belgium, Belgian Women’s Day, observances in Belgium, Furia, Women’s Consultation Committee