International Women’s Day: a day of empowerment

Emily Levine, News Editor

As three female philosophers referred to as Destiny’s Child once said, “All the women who are independent, put your hands at me!”

International Women’s Day takes place on Mar. 8 every year.  The holiday stems from the International Socialist Women’s Day Conference, which took place on Feb. 28, 1909. On this day, the Socialist Party of America’s Women’s Day suggested that the celebration be held annually worldwide.

This suggestion, however, was not upheld until 1975, when the United Nations finally constituted the day as an international holiday.

“We should celebrate International Women’s Day because it gives our society a day to recognize everything both women today and in the past have accomplished despite the pressures against them,” said freshman Olivia Kass.

The observances of International Women’s Day in the early 1900s were mainly celebrated through protests.  When the holiday was first instituted, most countries did not allow female suffrage, so the celebrations were held to shed light on this injustice to women all over the world.

For example, in 1911, women from countries such as Germany, Austria, Denmark, and Switzerland stormed public halls and landmarks, demanding their right to vote.  These feminists also called for proper protection against sexual discrimination in workplaces.

Russia had a particularly great influence over the success and awareness of this holiday.  Many historians claim that it was the women of the early 1900s who truly began the Russian Revolution, and, ultimately, led to the new era of reform movements within the eastern empire.

On March 8, 1917, women textile workers flooded Petrograd and eventually drew support from Saint Petersburg, igniting the beginning of the February Revolution.  This revolution, alongside the October Revolution, was the beginnings of the historic Russian Revolution. 

In their protests, the Russian women called for an end to the Russian involvement in WWI, a more sufficient food supply, and the end of Czarism.  About seven days after the protests dissipated, Nicholas II abdicated the throne and the provisional government granted female suffrage.

Many people were hesitant to honor this progressive holiday.  However, in 1967, in the midst of the second feminist movement, women of the era brought the holiday back and made it into a day of activism, calling for equal pay, political rights, subsidized child care, and reproductive rights.  

As a result of this second wave of feminism, the United Nations finally adopted the holiday, proclaiming March 8th as the UN Day for women’s rights and world peace in 1975.

“I think it’s great that the UN dedicates a day to appreciate women and push towards more equality in the future. The day reminds women that anything is possible with enough determination and drive,” said senior Rebecca Orlick.

Today, March 8th remains to be highly celebrated around the world.  Women all over applaud the achievements made in regards to female suffrage, working rights, and health protections, as well as call attention to issues that still require improvement, such as the gender wage gap.  

There is still a long way to go in terms of implementing fully integrated female protections; however, there is also much to proud of, and those are things worth celebrating.