Mongolia whole-heartedly celebrates this day to honor and inspire women. In fact, it's a public holiday. Banks are closed. Everyone has the day off work. I've been told by Nomi at the Arts Council of Mongolia that this is common in post-Soviet countries, and it makes sense since the official date of the holiday originates from the time when Russian women began a strike for bread and peace in 1917. (The general idea for a Women's Day began about ten years before this, but the strike set the date that people all over the world now observe.)
In Mongolia, it's celebrated a little bite more like Valentine's Day or Mother's Day than what I'd expect from International Women's Day or what I've come to know it as. The shops were full of men buying flowers and chocolates for their wives, sisters, daughters, mothers etc. Men took the women in their lives out to dinner or prepared dinner for them at home. On the eve of International Women's Day I went to an opening at the Union of Mongolian Artists gallery of contemporary work by women artists. There were some really great textile pieces and monotypes, in addition to the usual painting.
In other news, the President of the United States was greeted with the beating of drums and the flying of banners bearing the words "Bush Go Home" when he arrived in Brasil this week. About 10,000 people spilled out onto the streets of Sao Paolo to express their collective disapproval of the Iraq war and a pending ethanol energy alliance. Sadly, most Mongolians are naive to the farce that is the Bush administration. They are often surprised when they hear me talk of the corruption, racism, lack of education, ignorance etc. that runs rampant like millions of hard-backed cockroaches in what they call my homeland.