Celebrate International Women’s Day March 8, 2011
On March 8, people celebrate all over the world the 100th International Women’s Day this year. On this day, we not only commemorate the fruits the century-long struggle bore, as the United Nation’s IWD webpage puts it, for “equality, justice, peace, and development,” but also remember the work that still lies ahead. In the turn of the twentieth century, women in industrialized countries began to organize for equal right to vote and hold public office, equal right to work and vocational training, and equal treatment at the workplace.
The day is not celebrated in every country, and even in the United States, commemorating March 8 is a fairly recent development. This is particularly peculiar given that in New York City as early as 1908, 15,000 women took action and rallied demanding shorter working hours, higher salaries, and voting rights. The first modern day National Women’s Day in the US was celebrated the following year on February 28, 1909. The first official observation of IWD took place on March 19, 1911, when millions of women and men took the streets in some European countries demanding equality for women. The year 1945 was a cornerstone in the age-old struggle of the women’s movement, when the Charter of the United Nation recognized gender equality as a fundamental right. The UN designated 1975 as the International Year of Women.
Although, the day is not widely celebrated, the US devotes the entire month of March to women. In many other countries, March 8 is a national holiday, when men honour women with flowers and other gifts. When I was a young boy, we picked snowdrops and violets in the woods representing the first messengers of spring, for our lady relatives and friends.
Let us celebrate this year also the progress brought by one hundred years of the women’s movement, remember extraordinary individual achievements of ordinary women, and vow to continue the struggle to promote equality and protect women’s rights everywhere in the world.
For more information on the history of IWD and worldwide events visit http://www.internationalwomensday.com/.