Around the world, thousands of events are held to celebrate IWD on March 8th. Although the date might vary from country to country, the goal is the same: Gender equality, Reproductive rights, Financial Equality, and Political participation. International Women’s Day has been celebrated in countries around the world since the 1902. The early 19th century was a turbulent time for women, who were concerned with women’s suffrage (The right to vote), equal pay, and safe work environments. In the 21st’ century, women are still fighting for many of the same rights.
Even in America, a so called developed country, an epidemic of poverty and violence against women is the norm.
Fact #1: Every two minutes, somewhere in America, someone is sexually assaulted. (Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) calculation based on 2000 National Crime Victimization Survey. Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Department of Justice)
Fact #2: Almost one-third of female homicide victims are killed by an intimate partner. (FBI, Uniform Crime Reports 2001)
Fact # 3: Women in America are further behind than women in other countries—the gap in poverty rates between men and women is wider in America than anywhere else in the Western world.
Fact # 4: In America, women who work full time earn only 77 percent of what men make.
The rights women enjoy today in many developed countries have come as a result of brave protest and marches by women worldwide. In Russia, in 1917, over one million men and women contributed to the downfall of the Czar by striking to protest against the death of 2 million soldiers in the war. As a result of the strike, Russian women won the right to vote. Although women have made progress, much remains to be done to ensure economic, political, and social equality with men.
Throughout the years, the movement has spread internationally. The United Nations holds an annual International Women’s Day to help spread official celebration of the holiday to every country in the world. The day is 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.
Excerpt from the poem “We all have a hand in this story” by Leshana Mitchell
Woman, girl, mother
Shut your mouth
Stand by your man
Don’t make him stray
Don’t make him pay
For the crimes he committed against you
We all have a hand in this story
A story of violation
A story of frustration
A story of restriction
A story of humiliation.
The women’s rights movement is a human rights movement. Women struggle with the same issues as many disadvantaged groups around the world. Safe work environments, the right to vote, reproductive rights, and the ability to be financially independent are the central goals of International Women’s day. The theme for 2013 is “THE GENDER AGENDA: GAINING MOMENTUM”.