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Tuesday, 8 March 2011

The significance of the 100th anniversary of international womens day

SO today March the 8th we celebrate the 100th anniversary of international womens day

International Women's Day has been observed since in the early 1900's, a time of great expansion and turbulence in the industrialized world that saw booming
population growth and the rise of radical ideologies.

1908
Great unrest and critical debate was occurring amongst women. Women's oppression and inequality was spurring women to become more vocal and active in campaigning
for change. Then in 1908, 15,000 women marched through New York City demanding shorter hours, better pay and voting rights.

1909
In accordance with a declaration by the Socialist Party of America, the first National Woman's Day (NWD) was observed across the United States on 28 February.
Women continued to celebrate NWD on the last Sunday of February until 1913.

1910
n 1910 a second International Conference of Working Women was held in Copenhagen. A woman named a
Clara Zetkin
(Leader of the 'Women's Office' for the Social Democratic Party in Germany) tabled the idea of an International Women's Day. She proposed that every year
in every country there should be a celebration on the same day - a Women's Day - to press for their demands. The conference of over 100 women from 17 countries,
representing unions, socialist parties, working women's clubs, and including the first three women elected to the Finnish parliament, greeted Zetkin's
suggestion with unanimous approval and thus International Women's Day was the result.

1911
Following the decision agreed at Copenhagen in 1911, International Women's Day (IWD) was honoured the
first time
in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland on 19 March. More than one million women and men attended IWD rallies campaigning for women's rights to work,
vote, be trained, to hold public office and end discrimination. However less than a week later on 25 March, the tragic 'Triangle Fire' in New York City
took the lives of more than 140 working women, most of them Italian and Jewish immigrants. This disastrous event drew significant attention to working
conditions and labour legislation in the United States that became a focus of subsequent International Women's Day events. 1911 also saw women's '
Bread and Roses'
campaign.
 
1913-1914
On the eve of World War I campaigning for peace, Russian women observed their first International Women's Day on the last Sunday in February 1913. In 1913
following discussions, International Women's Day was transferred to 8 March and this day has remained the global date for International Wommen's Day ever
since. In 1914 further women across Europe held rallies to campaign against the war and to express women's solidarity.

1917
On the last Sunday of February, Russian women began a strike for "bread and peace" in response to the death over 2 million Russian soldiers in war. Opposed
by political leaders the women continued to strike until four days later the Czar was forced to abdicate and the provisional Government granted women the
right to vote. The date the women's strike commenced was Sunday 23 February on the Julian calendar then in use in Russia. This day on the Gregorian calendar
in use elsewhere was 8 March.

1918 - 1999
Since its birth in the socialist movement, International Women's Day has grown to become a global day of recognition and celebration across developed and
developing countries alike. For decades, IWD has grown from strength to strength annually. For many years the United Nations has held an annual IWD conference
to coordinate international efforts for women's rights and participation in social, political and economic processes. 1975 was designated as 'International
Women's Year' by the United Nations. Women's organisations and governments around the world have also observed IWD annually on 8 March by holding large-scale
events that honour women's advancement and while diligently reminding of the continued vigilance and action required to ensure that women's equality is
gained and maintained in all aspects of life.

2000 and beyond
IWD is now an official holiday in Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, China (for women only), Cuba, Georgia, Guinea-Bissau,
Eritrea, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Madagascar (for women only), Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Nepal (for women only), Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan,
Uganda, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Vietnam and Zambia. The tradition sees men honouring their mothers, wives, girlfriends, colleagues, etc with flowers and small
gifts. In some countries IWD has the equivalent status of Mother's Day where children give small presents to their mothers and grandmothers.

The new millennium has witnessed a significant change and attitudinal shift in both women's and society's thoughts about women's equality and emancipation.
Many from a younger generation feel that 'all the battles have been won for women' while many feminists from the 1970's know only too well the longevity
and ingrained complexity of patriarchy. With more women in the boardroom, greater equality in legislative rights, and an increased critical mass of women's
visibility as impressive role models in every aspect of life, one could think that women have gained true equality. The unfortunate fact is that women
are still not paid equally to that of their male counterparts, women still are not present in equal numbers in business or politics, and globally women's
education, health and the violence against them is worse than that of men.

However, great improvements have been made. We do have female astronauts and prime ministers, school girls are welcomed into university, women can work
and have a family, women have real choices. And so the tone and nature of IWD has, for the past few years, moved from being a r eminder about the negatives
to a celebration of the positives.


So i do hope you can all join me in celebrating this great day where many have sacrificed a lot of their time and effort to the movement for change for women. I think it is e xcellent this day was born out of the socialist movement too we must never forget the role women play in society and what they contribute to the fight for fairness across the globe.
With the horrific cuts about to hit most countries around the world it will be women who i hear will be most affected we must stand by them and fight and strike with them on the picket lines if it comes to that.

This is a significant day for many people and this day should be respected for what it is.

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