International Women's Day
International Women’s Day has become cause for celebration across the world, but despite the publicity for it each year and despite it gaining in popularity every year, still many people fail to understand what it actually represents. It is a day aimed at eliminating discrimination against women. Women’s rights are fundamental human rights, which include the right to live free from violence, slavery and discrimination and the right to be educated, own property, to work and to earn a fair and equal wage. Going back to February 28th 1909 in New York the Socialist Party of America organise a Women’s Day. Such was its popularity that the following year, 1910, the International Socialist Women’s Conference suggested that it should become an annual event. The date for the event became March 8th every year.
On the eve of World War 1, Russian women campaigning for peace observed the first International Women’s Day and across Europe women held rallies throughout the war. In London on March 8th 1914, women marched from Bow to Trafalgar Square in support of women’s suffrage. On the march, Sylvia Pankhurst was arrested in front of Charing Cross Station on her way to speak in Trafalgar Square.
In 1917 Russian women began to strike for ‘bread and peace’ in response to the death of over 2 million Russian soldiers in WW1. This lead to the abdication of the Czar and the Russian government to grant women the right to vote.
International Women’s Day was celebrated for the first time by the United Nations in 1975. In December 1977 the General Assembly adopted a resolution setting out that a United Nations Day for Women’s Rights and International Peace to be observed annually. In 1996 the UN adopted the theme of ‘Celebrating the Past, Planning the Future’ and each successive year has had its own adopted themes for that year. Some of them have been ‘Women at the Peace Table’ ‘Women and Human Rights’ and other worthy causes that empower women!
Over the years feminism has changed the way that women’s place has altered, so in 2001 a centralised digital hub was created, uniting the promotion of women’s achievements and accelerating gender parity. 2011 was the 100 years centenary of International Women’s Day and things were changing swiftly in the world, meaning the organizations needed to alter many factors in their remit.
The theme for International Women’s Day this year, 2019, is ‘Think Equal, Build Smart, Innovate for Change’. Marches will take place across many countries and speeches will aim to rally women to the cause. The changes made to the lives of girls and adult women, especially in the workplace, have completely changed the way women live their lives and have positively altered the expectations they have, which is a great achievement!
It is due to the movement that women in the workplace should be able to hold their own against the men, but it is not universal and still there is a long way to go before true equality across all levels of life are totally achieved. Still we are on the right road for that to happen, so if you’re a woman, whatever your age, maybe think about joining in some of the marches and rallies that will be held to promote total change.