Here’s how Italy is marking International Women’s Day

It's International Women's Day on March 8th, and here are the ways the occasion is being marked in Italy, from a general strike to free museum visits.

Here's how Italy is marking International Women's Day
Italian filmmaker Asia Argento (C) and US actress Rose McGowan take part in an International Women's Day march in Rome. Photo: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP


International Women's Day, also known as 'La Festa della Donna', has long been celebrated in Italy with a tradition of men handing out mimosa flowers to the women in their lives. The yellow flower was chosen partly because it is in bloom in early March, and partly because of the bright colour, and has been the symbol of March 8th since 1946.

In fact, this is such a popular tradition that in Mestre, Venice, shopkeepers and residents organized a vigil to try to protect a historic mimosa tree. The city's environmental councillor said on Thursday that the tree had nevertheless been “destroyed”, probably by someone planning to sell the flowers, and urged Venetians not to accept the flowers.

A general strike

As well as celebrating women and their rights and achievements, the day is also an annual reminder of how far there remains to go.

To draw attention to the women's rights movement, a national strike has been called for and backed by trade unions and rights organization Non Una di Meno.

READ MORE: Women's Day strike hits rail, road and air transport across Italy

Marches and rallies

Women will be making their voices heard in Italian squares and streets, with actress Asia Argento, one of the first to go public with assault allegations against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, set to speak at an event in Rome.

See a list of the events organized by Non Una di Meno here.

Free hospital and doctor's visits

More than 200 hospitals across Italy are marking International Women's Day by offering free medical check-ups and consultations to women. The main motive of the initiative is to promote gynaecological health. Find more information (in Italian) here and find your nearest participating hospital here.

Free museum visits 

Italy's Ministry of Culture is offering free entry to national museums and other cultural sites for women across the country. Museums are also highlighting women artists in their collections and on social media, using the hashtag '#8marzoalmuseo'.

Several cultural heritage sites across the country will hold special events, talks and exhibitions to mark the day, some focussing on specific periods, authors, or regions, and others looking more generally at the representation of women in art. Find a full list of the events taking place here.

READ ALSO: Six inspiring Italian women who changed the world