Saturday, March 6, 2010
International Women's Day!
International Women's Day is an occasion to celebrate the achievements of women irrespective of their ethnic, racial, religious, political, or other cultural differences. It offers everyone involved in governmental, non-governmental, and personal efforts to promote women's rights and gender equality a chance to stop and assess the great progress that has been made. From the inaugural Women's Day celebration in the United States on February 28, 1909 until today, countless doors have been opened and glad ceilings broken to afford women access to markets, politics, and greater autonomy within their own communities.
The occasion, as it is currently celebrated, dates back to the 1910 Socialist International meeting in Copenhagen, that honored the women's rights movement and hoped to build support for universal women's suffrage. Over one hundred women from seventeen countries attended the Copenhagen Initiative meeting, three of whom were subsequently elected to be the first females to serve in the Finnish Parliament. The following year, more than one million men and women attended rallies on March 19th in Austria, Denmark, Germany, and Switzerland in which they demanded universal suffrage, women's rights to work and to vocational training, and an end to discrimination and harassment in the workplace.
This holiday has also served as a mechanism for resisting larger executions of violence. In 1913 and 1914, International Women's Day was the occasion for transnational protests of World War I. It was also the day chosen in Russia in 1917 on which to hold the famous 'Bread for Peace' strike, after which the Czar abdicated and the provisional government finally granted women the right to vote. Following the Bolshevik Revolution, feminist Alexandra Kollontai persuaded Lenin to make it an official holiday in the Soviet Union. While originally a working day, the USSR declared it a non-working holiday by national decree in 1965. Currently, the day is an official holiday in over thirty countries including Angola, Belarus, Mongolia, Poland, and Uganda. In many others, such as Cameroon and Romania, the day is not a public holiday, but is still widely observed.
This celebration grew to become a global day of recognition and celebration in developed and developing countries alike. It has expanded in locations and numerical involvement each year until the United Nations declared 1975 to be 'International Women's Year' and gave official sanction and began sponsoring International Women's Day events throughout the world.
These events work to shine a light both on the successes of the women's movements and the progress yet to be made. While there are now female astronauts and legislators, chemists, and college professors, there still exist a multiplicity of restrictions on women's success including the inferior status of women's education, health, and protections from violence. It is important to take this holiday to reflect both on how far we as a world community have come in the quest to assure all individuals equal rights. But this day should also serve as a rallying point from which we can progress together into an even brighter future.
Posted by a w a v a. at 9:47 PM