Monday, March 8, 2010

International Women's Day Celebration

Today, March 8th, is the 99th celebration of International Women's Day. The history of how this day came to be is interesting:
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.

Fifteen thousand women marching in New York City over a hundred years ago - wow, that must have been some sight to see. To read the rest of the history about International Women's Day, click HERE.

In honor of this day, the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, prepared this address:

No discussion of IWD would be complete, though, without one of the most powerful speeches about Women's Rights and Human Rights. That would be Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's speech to the UN 4th World Conference on Women Plenary Session in Beijing:

Wow - moves me to tears every time I watch this speech for a number of reasons: to have such an amazing advocate for women's rights, and human rights; the awe of her making this point to such a wide ranging audience, and grief that so much about which Clinton spoke - economic inequality, educational inequality, and the rampant rape of women around the globe, often as a tool of war. After all these years, it is not decreasing, but increasing.

And one area in our hemisphere where rape is on the rise is in Haiti after the earthquake:

Thank heavens some of these women will be safer due to the security patrol, but this is an aftershock of the earthquake about which we have heard nothing. What a grave disservice to women that it is not being reported, and that these women are in such fear. Sadly, that is the case for many women, here and abroad.

On this day, this 99th celebration of International Women's Day, let us renew our resolve to make meaningful changes in the lives of women in the United States, Haiti, Sudan, Bosnia, England, all around the globe. Let us be mindful of what other women endure in other countries, as well as at home. Let us work for social justice, equality, and abolition of violence against women. And may we not falter, for our sake, for the sake of our children, for the sake of humanity.

The last word on this day may come from a surprising source - NATO. Yes, that NATO. They make a suggestion behind which I can get 1,000%:


Feminist Review said...

A current event to add to the list of things to celebrate today: An Oscar Win for International Women’s Day! Pretty nice timing, no?

Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy said...

Indeed, Feminist Review! Thank you for the link!

First said...

Hello Amy,

My spouse published a column today that segues nicely from your tribute to International Women's Day:

Celebrating women as innovators and pioneers


Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy said...

Thanks so much, First! I appreciate that, and am on my way to read it now!

First said...

Thanks Amy. I don't know why I am called "First" by :)

I read your comment on our blog. Bessie likes to reply to everyone, but is away from any computers until later tonight. She'll respond by midnight eastern.

Thanks again!

Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy said...

LOL, First - hey, I don't judge people's "handles," First! :-D

Thanks for letting me know abt Bessie. She sounds like an amazing woman. I'll check back at your blog soon tomorrow, but no pressure, though! :-)

First said...

Cool. :)

Mary Ellen said...

What an excellent post, Amy! I can always count on you to keep us informed.

The sadness I feel for the plight of women around the world is just overwhelming.

And when you think about it, our own court system has been failing women for years. Just recently there was the young girl in CA who was killed by a sex predator who was let out of jail against the advise of the psychiatrist who said he was dangerous. Did the court care? No. I believe the reasons the courts don't care and allow this to happen over and over is because there is no respect for women, in general.

Look at the other side of the spectrum. Women who have killed their husbands in self-defense, or after years of abuse, are thrown in jail for life. But a man can rape and try to murder a girl (as the guy who just killed the young girl in CA) and just because he didn't accomplish the murder, he's let go in a just a few years. What's wrong with this picture?

Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy said...

Hey, Mary Ellen!

Thanks so much - you know that means a lot to me.

I hear you loud and clear - someone left a link at this post at NQ abt the number of women who have been raped in Haiti (72%), and the number who have been abused (40%). It is heartbreaking, infuriating, and sobering. Here's the link:

I am sure you have seen that another high school girl was killed in CA near where the other girl was abducted. Wow. And on it goes. We make some strides, for sure, but there is still so very far to go before we achieve true equality.

Can you imagine, Mary Ellen, living in a world in which we do not have to be afraid, for our bodies, for our very lives? Where we don't have to worry abt every footfall behind us, or make sure we carry our keys between our fingers, or check our cars for intruders, and on and on?

I can only hope, and pray, that someday soon, our daughters, nieces, granddaughters can live in that world...

Becky said...

thank you for this post RRR Amy, and also for the "Why Do They Hate Us?". The comments left at No Quarter for that post were a wonderfully enlightening discussion. I too am moved to tears each I time I watch Hillary give that speech. Absolutely amazing, isn't she???

Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy said...

Hey, Becky -

Thank you so much - for this one and the "Why Do They Hate Us?" I agree - the comments at NQ were very interesting indeed, along with some powerful personal stories.

That Hillary - I just keep hearing in my head the Sohpie B. Hawkins song, "Damn, We Wish You Were President..." (Here's the link: