In 1908, a protest happened in New York of15,000 brave women who were demanding shorter working hours, better pay and the right to vote. A year later the Socialist party marked the anniversary of this march by declaring it the first National Women’s Day. In 1910, an international conference of working women gathered in Copenhagen and it was proposed to make this an international movement. In 1911, International Women’s Day was honored for the first time around the world. It took until 1975 for the United Nations to recognize the idea but it continued in between. The UN announced their first theme for this day in1996.
International Women’s Day began by demanding rights for those identifying as women. It started in calling for better working conditions and basic rights that would be considered equal to those identifying as male.
Honestly, I didn’t know much about this holiday until I moved to Europe. There have been nods to IWD in the states and I have been in marches but I didn’t know much about the background or even the celebrations. Here, in Germany, it is a public holiday in which many have the day off and shops and stores are closed for the day. I didn’t realize until I moved here that everyone knew when International Women’s Day happened and that women were given chocolates and flowers on this day. In the commercialism of this day, we lost the power of gathered underdogs to create change though.
This year, the theme that has been introduced is, “Break the Bias.” This year’s theme reminds us that all is still not equal. Women around the world still get paid quite a bit less on the dollar to men. There is still descrepancy and rights deficits around the world for those identifying as female. There is mansplaining and manspreading galore. The call is to raise awareness around bias around those who are women. I would include those who identify as this gender as well. It is no secret that we have a ways to go on all counts, don’t we?
Today is also a chance to honor those who identify as women in our lives, especially those who have made a difference to us. I think about all of these incredible women who have gone before me to create opportunities or make way for opportunities that I have today. I owe so many women in my circles honor and care and love.
I am eager to tell my nieces about these women in their lives and how they can continue to work for equality. I have a brand new, three week old, niece that I am thinking about today and what kind of a world I can continue to create, build and fight for so that she can be more of herself in that world.
What women do you honor today? How will you continue the challenge of equality?