While International Women’s Day is often seen as a day to celebrate women, and their achievements, it is important not to lose sight of the political edge that this day has always had. The earliest Women’s Day observance was held on February 28, 1909, in New York. It was organized by the Socialist Party of America in remembrance of the 1908 garment workers’ strike, where women protested against working conditions. More about the history of International Women’s Day can be found here and more about the history and relevance of IWD here
Also connected to the Garment Industry and the history of International Women’s Day, was the 1911 women’s ‘Bread and Roses’ campaign. The term ‘Bread and Roses’ comes from a poem by Robert Oppenheimer written in 1911. But the idea of “Bread and Roses” speaks of the deep human desire, not merely for the necessities of life, but for the creation of, and participation in, a world, community, and society of beauty. We need bread, we need shelter, we need clothes to keep us warm. But we also need to satisfy the deeper part of our human nature that longs for nourishment. The desire for leisure, meaningful friendship, music, art, and the time to pursue the particular interests and hobbies that fulfill us and lead us down a course of wholeness lie at the heart of “Roses”. These are legitimate desires that need satisfaction and the working class must fight, not only for the right to the necessities of life, but also for the right to enjoy the things that often only the rich have the time and money for.
I enjoyed reading NITV’s list of 20 trailblazing Indigenous women who have changed Australia. Like me, you can probably think of names you could add to this list. And there are many Indigenous women who will never make a list like this but are doing the hard yards, tackling hard issues, making a difference in the lives of their communities. Let us remember them, too.
The IWD 2017 campaign theme is #BeBoldForChange and are challenging us all to work towards a more gender inclusive world. There is a list of events – to find ones near you search the drop down box for your city/suberb. Here
There will be an IWD march in Melbourne, 5.30-7.30 at Parliament House, Spring Street
details here, particularly worth checking out are the 10 areas listed where change and justice are being called for.
And the IWDA blog has a piece 5 reasons to march on IWD, and another on other ways to protest gender inequality and to stand up for women’s rights if you cant attend the march. In fact, the International Women’s Development Agency Blog has lots worth reading. I recommend it.
In the same spirit of love and liberation that inspired the January 2017 Women’s March, in cities all over the world, women are again joining together in a campaign to make March 8th A Day Without a Woman, recognizing the enormous value that women of all backgrounds add to socio-economic systems–while receiving lower wages and experiencing greater inequities, vulnerability to discrimination, sexual harassment, and job insecurity.
Anyone, anywhere, can join by making March 8th A Day Without a Woman, in one or all of the following ways:
- Women take the day off, from paid and unpaid labour
- Avoid shopping for one day (with exceptions for small, women- and minority-owned businesses).
- Wear RED in solidarity with A Day Without A Woman
social media #DayWithoutAWoman more information about this campaign on www.womensmarch.com
And if you would like to donate to a charity that works towards improving the lives of women and girls in countries less well off than ours, the UN Women’s website offers an opportunity for this here