In the United States, International Women’s Day is akin to Mother’s Day. It’s a day when men show their appreciation for the women in their lives by buying flowers or taking them out to dinner or whatever makes sense for their relationships. But in other countries, it remains what it originally started out as, a day to shed light on the social and political struggles that women still endure.

The Socialist Party of America dubbed Feb. 28, 1909, National Women’s Day. It became international in 1910 following a recommendation made by German socialist Luise Zietz. The date on which International Women’s Day was observed was not officially set until 1977, when the United Nations declared Mar. 8 as the UN Day for Women’s Rights and International Peace.

The theme of the 2012 International Women’s Day is Empower Women – End Hunger and Poverty. It is an official holiday in countries throughout North America, South America, Africa, Australia, Europe and Asia.

Although women in the United States have come a long way since winning the right to vote in 1920, they still have a long way to go, though not nearly as far as women in many other nations. Today is the perfect day for men everywhere to let the women in their lives know that they are loved, appreciated and supported in their efforts to be treated as equals.