International Women’s Day is one of our favourite days here at EBV. As not only is this an important event to celebrate women and recognize all that women have accomplished, this day is devoted to women globally! From social to political, cultural to scientific, so many of the advances in our world have been because of women. This International Women’s Day we wanted to reflect upon and discover the history behind the day as well as talk about ways to improve!
To my surprise, this day has been celebrated for centuries going back to the 1900s. One key moment in history that occurred was on March 8, 1908, when 15,000 women marched demanding better pay, shorter hours, and equal voting rights in New York City. A year later National Womens Day was actually celebrated in February in the United States. It was not until 1910 in Copenhagen, that a woman named Clara Zetkin decidedly proposed a day of celebration for women worldwide. While only a year later (1911) in Denmark, International Women’s Day was being recognized and celebrated it took quite some time for the rest of the world to catch up. It actually was not until 1975 that the UN adopted this official day. In 1996, the UN announced a theme for that year which was “Celebrating the Past, Planning for the Future”. Then every year from then on a theme was considered. This year's theme is “ DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality”, as you can imagine, it is all about removing barriers for women and girls in STEM as well as eliminating gender-based violence online. Check out an amazing video from UN Women here
In 2011, an exact century from the day this was first enacted in the United States, President Barack Obama officially declared March to be Women's History month. In the UK, Annie Lennox lead a march across Tower Bridge in London. She garnered attention and raised awareness in support of global charities that support women.
Throughout the years there has been a lot more attention, whether in literature, news, or media, on the importance of gender equality and Women’s rights. Though a lot has changed since the early 1900s, women can be seen in the boardrooms, behind the cameras, or even inspiring policies, there are still aspects that have not changed or even gotten worse. Equitable access to education for women and girls is still not a reality, equal pay between women and men does not exist, especially in places considered to be male-dominated, and violence against women is still one of the worst problems of all.
So when we celebrate all the amazing work that has been done, it is equally important to recognise that Women's stories do not end after March 8th because herstory happens every day. The symbolism of a day or a month dedicated to women’s suffrage and successes is a fine first step, but it cannot be the last.