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March 8th - International Women’s Day

By Edited Aug 5, 2015 0 0

The early 1900’s was the beginning of the celebration of International Women’s Day. Because of the predecessors of women like Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Canton, Amelia Bloomers, and Lacertia Mott there was discord among the women in America about the issues of voting rights, wage differences, working conditions, education, and inequalities. In reality, the inequalities date back later to 1776 when Abigail Adams ask her husband John to “remember the ladies” in the new code of law. The very next year women lost their right to vote in the state of New York. Other states soon followed and by 1787, the U.S. Constitutional Convention gave the states the right to decide who had voting privileges. All states took away the voting rights of women except New Jersey. By 1807, the women lost their right to vote in that state as well.

From the early 1800’s until about the mid 1800’s women joined the abolitionist movement and concentrated their effort towards anti-slavery laws. By 1848, the first Women’s Rights convention was held and none other than Elizabeth Canton suggested equal suffrage. Annual meeting were held after this until about the time of the Civil War. The women including Susan B. Anthony, put aside their women’s right causes to support the war effort that was unfolding before them. The later part of the 1800’s were filled with demonstration of protest to the forgotten inequality issues suffered by women. Many would attempt to vote and then be arrested, but they did not concede. Furthermore, during these years the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendment was passed giving the black man the right to vote. Because of these changes the abolitionist and the women’s suffrage movement separated into separate causes. The women resented that the two movements had not remained united in their fight. During this discord, Susan B. Anthony forms the Equal Rights Association, and later, the National Woman Suffrage Association came to be with Elizabeth Stanton acting as president.

After 1908, women had become more vocal about their position and their rights. Tired of being oppressed by the patriarchy, women began campaigning for change. No longer willing to put up with the inequalities and atrocities of the past, over 15,000 women marched the streets of New York City. They demanded shorter working hours and better pay considering how the men were making four times as much as they had been receiving for the same job description.

On February 28, 1909, many observed the first National Women’s Day, and this event continued on the last Sunday of February until 1913. By 1910, this had become an international event and International Women’s Day was born.

This idea unfolded during an International Conference of Working Women at Copenhagen where over 100 women from 17 countries where in attendance. This group of women represented working women’s groups, labor parties, socialist parties, unions, and elected female officials from around the world. One of the women in attendance was a leader of the “Women’s Office” in Germany, Clara Zetkin, suggested that this day should be observed by women all over the world every year on the same day. Everyone at the meeting thought this was an excellent idea. International Women’s Day was official.

The first official International Women’s Day was honored the following year in Austria, Switzerland, Denmark, and Germany. The official day for this event was held on March 19, 1911 and over a million participants rallied around the world for equal rights for women. Before a week had passed a huge fire destroyed The Triangle Waist Factory in New York were 146 young immigrant women were killed. This factory was the typical sweatshop, which encompassed long working hours, low wages, unsanitary conditions, and dangerous working conditions that women were subjected to endure. This tragic event brought even greater attention to the plight of women and their international labor movement in the United States. The women of Lawrence, Massachusetts gained even more momentum after they led and won the “Bread and Roses Strike” that lasted from January through March of the following year. They were responsible for the moving picket line. In 1913, Russian women participate in their first International Woman’s Day, and after the following year the date was changed to March 8th and it has stayed that date ever since.

Women began making strides in their fight for equality around the world. In 1917, Russian women went on strike for what they called “bread and peace” in retaliation of 2 million of their men that had died in war. The Czar gave women the right to vote and the strike commenced on March 8. By 1920, the 19th Amendment is ratified by Tennessee on August 8 and becomes law on the 26th. This Amendment gave women the right to vote.

Since its inception, International Women’s Day has grown in strength and numbers. It is now an official holiday in 15 countries. Women are honored in the same way as they are on Mother’s Day. Most women of today’s generation feel as if we have arrived, and even though we have made great progress, we still make less than men and we are still underrepresented in the corporate venues, locally and globally. With that being said, we have risen higher than we have ever been, and we will not stop until we have arrived.

Today on March 8, thousands of events are held around the world to celebrate International Women’s Day. Women are honored for their contributions and they are inspired by each other’s achievements. Women gather around the globe and new connections are made, political rallies held, and business conferences commence. Each International Women’s Day Celebration is built around a theme. Usually, there is a United Nations Global Theme, and then each individual country can create there on theme. This year the United Nation’s Theme is “A Pathway to decent work for women,” while the United States Theme is “Women@IBM: Success in the Globally Integrated Enterprise.” The United States has 59 events dedicated to the International Women’s Day celebration. Not only is the 8th of March International Women’s Day, but the United States has designated the month of March as “Women’s History Month.”



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