When I began to think about writing this post, my mind first went to the snark. (Naturally!) YIPPEE! They’ve set aside ONE WHOLE day for women! Gee! That’s like when Ebenezer Scrooge told his faithful clerk, Bob Cratchit, “You’ll probably want the whole day off for Christmas?!” It seemed no different than “Mother’s Day”, a day to give flowers, cards and lip service to more than half of the population. Not to mention, making a lot of money for Hallmark Cards. Yeah, give the broads a day to get ’em off our backs!! But as I researched it a little more, I found that the history of International Women’s Day is quite extensive and rich. In 2011, Hillary Clinton, US Secretary of State, helped celebrate the 100th year of International Women’s Day! We all know that if Hillary Clinton is involved, then it is an honorable and worthwhile event for the advancement of women and girls.
International Women’s Day has been observed since in the early 1900’s, a time of great expansion and turbulence in the industrialized world that saw booming population growth and the rise of radical ideologies.
Great unrest and critical debate was occurring amongst women. Women’s oppression and inequality was spurring women to become more vocal and active in campaigning for change. Then in 1908, 15,000 women marched through New York City demanding shorter hours, better pay and voting rights.
In accordance with a declaration by the Socialist Party of America, the first National Woman’s Day (NWD) was observed across the United States on 28 February. Women continued to celebrate NWD on the last Sunday of February until 1913.
n 1910 a second International Conference of Working Women was held in Copenhagen. A woman named a Clara Zetkin (Leader of the ‘Women’s Office’ for the Social Democratic Party in Germany) tabled the idea of an International Women’s Day. She proposed that every year in every country there should be a celebration on the same day – a Women’s Day – to press for their demands. The conference of over 100 women from 17 countries, representing unions, socialist parties, working women’s clubs, and including the first three women elected to the Finnish parliament, greeted Zetkin’s suggestion with unanimous approval and thus International Women’s Day was the result.
Following the decision agreed at Copenhagen in 1911, International Women’s Day (IWD) was honoured the first time in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland on 19 March. More than one million women and men attended IWD rallies campaigning for women’s rights to work, vote, be trained, to hold public office and end discrimination. However less than a week later on 25 March, the tragic ‘Triangle Fire’ in New York City took the lives of more than 140 working women, most of them Italian and Jewish immigrants. This disastrous event drew significant attention to working conditions and labour legislation in the United States that became a focus of subsequent International Women’s Day events. 1911 also saw women’s ‘Bread and Roses‘ campaign. `snip~
1918 – 1999
Since its birth in the socialist movement, International Women’s Day has grown to become a global day of recognition and celebration across developed and developing countries alike. For decades, IWD has grown from strength to strength annually. For many years the United Nations has held an annual IWD conference to coordinate international efforts for women’s rights and participation in social, political and economic processes. 1975 was designated as ‘International Women’s Year‘ by the United Nations. Women’s organisations and governments around the world have also observed IWD annually on 8 March by holding large-scale events that honour women’s advancement and while diligently reminding of the continued vigilance and action required to ensure that women’s equality is gained and maintained in all aspects of life.
2000 and beyond
IWD is now an official holiday in Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, China (for women only), Cuba, Georgia, Guinea-Bissau, Eritrea, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Madagascar (for women only), Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Nepal (for women only), Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Vietnam and Zambia.
I was heartened to see that the organizers of IWD are not complete Pollyannas, looking at the Women’s Movement through rose colored glasses. They recognize that although progress has been made, we really have a lot more work to do, as evidenced in this quote:
The new millennium has witnessed a significant change and attitudinal shift in both women’s and society’s thoughts about women’s equality and emancipation. Many from a younger generation feel that ‘all the battles have been won for women’ while many feminists from the 1970’s know only too well the longevity and ingrained complexity of patriarchy. With more women in the boardroom, greater equality in legislative rights, and an increased critical mass of women’s visibility as impressive role models in every aspect of life, one could think that women have gained true equality. The unfortunate fact is that women are still not paid equally to that of their male counterparts, women still are not present in equal numbers in business or politics, and globally women’s education, health and the violence against them is worse than that of men.
While I would disagree with part of the quote, specifically the statement that women have, “greater equality in legislative rights“, for a majority of the quote I would have to say….Amen to that Sisters!
Hopefully, later today, a video will become available of Secretary Clinton’s remarks at the 2012 Conference. We will UPDATE the post as soon as it does.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will join a host of accomplished women including Meryl Streep, Angelina Jolie and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Leymah Gbowee at the third annual Women in the World Summit, which kicks off Women’s Day on Thursday.
Women leaders, advocates and activists will come together in New York to tell their stories about women who are battling the status quo, opposing wars, violence, slavery and exploitation while shattering glass ceilings across the world.
Yeah well, our ceiling was only allowed 18 million cracks….we’re still waiting for the shattering. As we await Hillary, today and in the future, I’ll close with this video, “The Journey of Women’s Rights From 1911-2011.”
Dare I say……YES We Can!
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