Today is the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day. First being observed in 1909 on February 28th, the Socialist Party of America designated this day in honor of the 1908 garment workers’ strike in New York, where women protested against working conditions. It wasn’t until 1975, however, during International Women’s Year, that the United Nations began celebrating this day and, in turn, declared March 8th as International Women’s Day. It was on this day that the General Assembly recognized the role of women in peace efforts and development and urged an end to discrimination and an increase in support for women’s full and equal participation in our society.
International Women’s Day is more prominently celebrated in Europe, Africa and Russia, commemorated by parades, gifts of acknowledgment and fanfare. It is sad to me on such a personal level that this day is not as joyously celebrated here in the U.S. A great deal of people are still not even aware that this day exists.
That isn’t to say that there is nothing going on today, because the dedicated and phenomenal social activists of this country are doing amazing things to make sure that the message of International Women’s Day is spread widely. In Washington D.C. over a thousand people are set to descent on Capitol Hill to demand a better world for millions of marginalized women and girls around the world. Other events are also taking place around the world today. Annie Lenox will lead a mass march across London’s Millennium Bridge for charity, in Sydney, Australia, a major international businesswomen’s conference will be hosted, Trade Unions and charities are also campaigning and global corporations are hosting conferences and distributing extensive resource packs. The United Nations Secretary-General will also deliver a formal message.
In fact, here is a video from Annie Lenox talking about the 100th anniversary or International Women’s Day:
Kari Henley over at The Huffington Post has another great idea in celebrating International Women’s Day–To reach out, acknowledge and honor the oldest woman in your life. For a lot of us, the oldest women in our lives grew up not having the basic rights we as women have today. The right to vote, for instance, along with the right to work outside of the home and to have many employment opportunities be made readily available to us, although it must also be noted that not all employment opportunities are made available to women, since many women who are in traditionally male fields are still met by criticism and misogyny. Many of the oldest women we know were also not allowed the right to own their own property or have their own businesses, nor were they allowed to have control over their own health and reproductive health choices.
Today is a fantastic day to honor these women in our lives, to hear the stories of what their lives were like growing up and navigating their way within this world and the society that existed before many of us were brought into this world.
Kari Henley said it best in her post, to make it a point to get in touch with the oldest living woman you personally know–giver her a call or pay her a visit and ask her to tell you what her life was like as a woman when she was young. “For it is upon the shoulders of these foremothers we all stand today, and they cannot be recognized enough.”
Well said indeed.