Every year on March 8th, the World comes together to celebrate the social, economic, political, and cultural achievements made by women. This global awareness is about creating unity, advocacy, and empowerment for half of the world’s population. This celebration is not about creating division between the genders, but it is about showcasing the positive contributions women have given to bettering the lives of other women for over a century.
International Woman’s Day is an important day for all of us to celebrate not only to create unity but to teach the next generation about what we, as women, have fought for and to encourage women around the world to keep fighting for change. We not only celebrate the women who have fought for the rights of other women but we celebrate those women who have become inspirational pioneers that have also contributed to bettering the lives of all people both on a local and global platform.
Today countless organizations that support female agendas have adopted their own versions of International Women’s Day celebrations to highlight their specific causes. But what most people are unaware of is that International Women’s Day was not created by a specific organization or was formed by any government, NGO, women’s group, academic institution, or charity. International Women’s Day grew from the collective strength and boldness of women at the turn of the 20th century simply wanting to improve their lives and the lives of other women.
The history and the beginnings of our current day IWD can be traced back to 1908 when 15,000 women banded together and marched through the streets of New York City to shine a light on the inequality and oppression women were facing in society. The brave actions of these women resulted in the movement that would change the lives of future generations of women for the right to vote, shorter working hours to end the sweatshop life, and better pay (something we are still fighting for).
It was in 1910 that the idea of IWD started to take form. Clara Zetkin, a German leader of the Women’s Office, proposed that once a year in every country there should be a day to celebrate women and for women to be able to press for their rights and demands. In 1911, on March 19th, more than 1 million women and men from Switzerland, Denmark, Germany, and Austria held the first IWD rallies campaigning for women’s rights to vote, hold public office, and to end the discrimination of women.
Over the decades, the plight of women has improved in most of the world; women do have the right to vote, to hold public office, to attend institutions of higher learning, to choose their own paths in lives. However, there are many countries today that still oppress women’s rights, mutilate women’s genitalia, and entrap them in the sex traffic trade. It is up to us, the 50% of the world’s population, to keep fighting for the rights of other women to ensure the next generation of women are treated with equality and respect.
International Women’s Day is something that we should all celebrate. It is a day to remind us that we matter, to remember the brave women who fought for the rights we take for granted, and a day to keep pressing forward to help improve the lives of women from all across the globe.
It doesn’t take much to empower and support women from all walks of life. We must always uplift each other and not tear each other down. We must try to spread positive energy and not to spread gossip, or let our competitive nature destroy other women who are trying to work themselves up the corporate ladder with their bedazzled hammers to break that glass ceiling. When we train the next generation not to live like the women on The Real Housewives with the catfights, and learn to work together for a real purpose, we will make great strides towards changing the lives of women.
Although we have come a long way since the early days of the women’s rights movement there is still so much more for us to accomplish. We must continue the legacy of the early activists and work towards equal pay for equal work, for childcare, to end the sex traffic trade, to end body shaming, lifestyle shaming, religious persecution, and to create unity and tolerance. We must continue to remember the importance of International Women’s Day.
So, this March 8th, let us celebrate the women who have paved the path for us. Let us strive to be more like the many women who have fought to change the world for us. Let us be the next Susan B. Anthony, Betty Friedan, Coretta Scott King, Alice Walker, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Gloria Steinem, Alice Paul, Eleanor Roosevelt, Amelia Earhart, Oprah Winfrey, Catherine Johnson, Simone de Beauvoir, Maya Angelou, and the young Malala Yousafzai. And always, let us show kindness and compassion towards our fellow sisters of the world.