This Saturday, March 8th, is International Women’s Day. Many may have already been reminded of this special day by catching Google’s current “Doodle” video, that appears as a clickable graphic just above the Internet giant’s search bar (scroll down for video). It features a group of multicolored characters, most likely representing women of all races and backgrounds from around the globe. The holiday, which doesn’t seem to get a tremendous amount of press here in the states, was actually started by the American Socialist Party in 1908 and has become a way to celebrate women worldwide.
When International Women’s Day was first created in this country, the intent was to support garment workers, women, who were subject to horrible conditions in New York. Perhaps the most tragic, yet inspiring moment for this female friendly holiday, regarding its rise to international recognition, was the infamous Triangle Factory Shirtwaist Fire of 1911, where 146 women were horribly killed in New York City’s garment district. Since then, the holiday has only gained steam, particularly in times of war, when it became up to women to fill the workforce in countries around the world. The focus years back was mainly fair working conditions and compensation. However, the times have changed and so have the demands for equality.
While the core message of International Women’s Day remains somewhat the same, there are new, much more modern ideals to go along with the now seemingly “simple” demands for clean workplaces and good salaries. The United Nations has recognized International Women’s Day since 1975 and, according to the U.N., this year’s theme focuses on societal progress through equality for women: “[It is a] time to… celebrate acts of courage and determination by ordinary women…” Moreover, the U.N. has emphasized how empowerment of women is necessary for economic and social development. Specifically, it has been pointed out that women are extremely vital in providing the world with necessary strengths and attributes in order for growth in all aspects of society.
Although the holiday has not technically begun, the United Nations is not wasting any time getting started on the discussion regarding importance of equality for women and the roles they need to take on in today’s society. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, U.N. Women Executive Director, said today that women must have: “equal representation” in leadership, areas of peace, politics, business, and religion. In the U.S., with so many women in empowering roles, it may be easy to forget there is actually a long way to go before full equality of both men and women is reached. Even here, in the U.S.A., there has yet to be a female president during the course of 44 administrations. This is aside from other areas around the world where women are considered second class citizens. In some places, women are not even allowed to drive a car. Many women are still being forced into child marriage, subject to terrible health care, and civilly violated in so many other tragic ways.
Tomorrow, with the commencement of International Women’s Day, countries near and far are certain to see a multitude of events occurring in their own backyards. There will be speeches, seminars, TV specials, concerts, and plays. Of course, there will also be tons of posts and stories on social media sites such as Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, commemorating the 106-year-old festivity that ensures, for at least one day, women will be celebrated worldwide.
By Josh Taub