This year is the one hundredth anniversary of celebrating International Women’s Day (and the 24th anniversary of celebrating my birth). Here’s some info from the International Women’s Day Foundation:
IWD is now an official holiday in China, Armenia, Russia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bulgaria, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Macedonia, Moldova, Mongolia, Tajikistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan and Vietnam. 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.
This year there are more than 1500 IWD events around the world. There are events in nearly every major city in the US. Join one! And celebrate the women in your life!
I’ve decided to start a tradition in which I choose a different feminist each year to honor. Tonight I will be drinking in honor of Mary Jones, aka “Mother Jones.”
This feisty woman was so passionate about helping the less fortunate. According to Autumn Stephens, she was “a curser, a drinker, a hard-boiled old bird [who] organized her first labor strike at the age of forty-seven.” A Marxist at heart, she worked for the rights of steel workers, coal miners…you name it.
“This is the fighting age,” she thundered to a crowd of women in New York City, the sisters and wives of striking streetcar men. “Put on your fighting clothes!” (from Stephens’ Wild Women)
And in Mother Jones’ honor, I will continue to “pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living.”