International Women’s Day, It’s a Day to Celebrate and Empower Them.
International Women’s Day (March 8) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity, however sadly, the situation in Australia for Aboriginal women gives little cause to celebrate. The widespread incarceration of women experiencing very high levels of family or partner violence along with increasing removals of children shows we have a long way to go in our fight to ensure the human rights of Aboriginal women are respected.
A quickly round up reminds us that the 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. The Women’s Day is a collective day of global celebration and a call for gender parity. No one government, NGO, charity, corporation, academic institution, women’s network or media hub is solely responsible for International Women’s Day. Many organizations declare an annual day theme that supports their specific agenda or cause, and some of these are adopted more widely with relevance than others.
The story of women’s struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organization but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights, an observation that should be observed in the world over. Thus the Women’s Day is all about unity, celebration, reflection, advocacy and action – whatever that looks like globally at a local level. But one thing is for sure, International Women’s Day has been occurring for well over a century – and continues to grow from strength to strength.
I been a centuries journey all around the world, it all begun In 1908 with a 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.The following year 1909 in accordance with a declaration by the Socialist Party of America, the first Woman’s Day was observed across the United States on 28 February. Women continued to celebrate NWD on the last Sunday of February until 1913.
In 1910 a second International Conference of Working Women was held in Copenhagen. A woman named Clara Zetkin a Germany national 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 was honoured the first time in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland on 19 March. Since then a lot happened and the movement for women rights grew bigger and bigger and on the last Sunday of February 1917, Russian women began a strike for “bread and peace” in response to the death of over 2 million Russian soldiers in World War 1. Opposed by political leaders, the women continued to strike until four days later the Czar was forced to abdicate and the provisional Government granted women the right to vote. The date the women’s strike commenced was Sunday 23 February on the Julian calendar then in use in Russia. This day on the Gregorian calendar in use elsewhere was 8 March.
The breakthrough of the International Women’s Day came in 1975 when the day was celebrated for the first time by the United Nations. Then in December 1977, the General Assembly adopted a resolution proclaiming a United Nations Day for Women’s Rights and International Peace to be observed on any day of the year by Member States, in accordance with their historical and national traditions. After which numerous themes have seen then appeared on our headlines “Celebrating the past, Planning for the Future” in 1996. This theme was followed in 1997 with “Women at the Peace table”, and in 1998 with “Women and Human Rights”, and in 1999 with “World Free of Violence Against Women”, and so on each year until the current. More recent themes have included, for example, “Empower Rural Women, End Poverty & Hunger” and “A Promise is a Promise – Time for Action to End Violence Against Women”.
By the new millennium, International Women’s Day activity around the world had stalled in many countries. The world had moved on and feminism wasn’t a popular topic. International Women’s Day needed re-ignition. There was urgent work to do – battles had not been won and gender parity had still not been achieved. The brave few did a lot of work “the extraordinary accomplishments of women” in shaping the humans history. “Empowering Women and Girls through International Exchanges” was one of the most successful campaigns that revived the day. In the United Kingdom, celebrity activist Annie Lennox lead a superb march across one of London’s iconic bridges raising awareness in support for global charity Women for Women International.
Two day ago the world 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 may 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. However, great improvements have been made. We do have female astronauts and prime ministers, school girls are welcomed into university, women can work and have a family, women have real choices. And so each year the world inspires women and celebrates their achievements