The origins of when and how International Women's Day got its start can be traced back to three major events. The first was in 1848 when two American women, Elizabeth Cady Stanton & Lucretia Mott, indignant over women being barred from speaking at an anti-slavery convention, congregated a few hundred people at their nation’s first women’s rights convention in New York. Together they demanded civil, social, political & religious rights for women in a Declaration of Sentiments & Resolutions. A movement was born.
Then in 1857 garment workers in New York City staged a protest against inhumane working conditions & low wages. The police attacked the protesters & dispersed them, but the movement continued & led to the creation of the first women’s labor union.
The third can be traced back to New York City in February 1908, when thousands of women who again were garment workers, went on strike & marched through the city to protest against their working conditions. 15,000 women marched in the City for shorter work hours, better pay, voting rights, & an end to child labor. The slogan “Bread & Roses” emerged, with bread symbolizing economic security & roses for better living standards. Many of those who protested for working rights were young immigrants who had come to America from Europe seeking better opportunities. “Workers in this country also died in their efforts to advance workers’ rights, but they weren’t fearful in the same way that they were in some of the countries that they came from,” says Ms. Carol Rosenblatt, Executive Director of the Coalition of Labour Union Women. “They had a much different expectation than when they got here. They were exploited.”
In the May of 1908, the Socialist Party of America declared that the last Sunday in February would be National Women’s Day. The very first National Women’s Day was celebrated on February 28, 1909.
March 8, 1917, after women gained suffrage in Soviet Russia, it became a national holiday there. The day was then predominantly celebrated by the socialist movement & communist countries until it was adopted by the feminist movement in about 1967. The United Nations began celebrating the day of March 8 as International Women’s Day in 1977.
While this date has been hailed as a time to honour women’s achievements in the political, economic, & cultural sphere, it also serves as a reminder that women around the world still have a long way to go when it comes to obtaining the same opportunities, freedoms & liberties as others.
International Women’s Day celebrations can look different, depending on where you are in the world. In some places, the day is considered to be a national public holiday, in some countries it is largely ignored, while in other parts of the globe women risk their safety to take part in annual demonstrations amidst political threats, petitions, & calls for boycotts.
While on a global level we have a long way to go for the rights & freedoms of all, let’s use this day to honour the past & the women who have sacrificed so much to get us to this point while also continuing to fight for an even brighter future.
This year, the theme for International Women's Day 2021 is #choosetochallenge.
The official website quote reads:
“A challenged world is an alert world. Individually, we're all responsible for our own thoughts and actions - all day, every day. We can all choose to challenge and call out gender bias and inequality. We can all choose to seek out and celebrate women's achievements. Collectively, we can all help create an inclusive world. From challenge comes change, so let's all choose to challenge.”
They are asking everyone to Raise your Hand High to show your commitment & support to #choosetochallenge & call out inequality. Strike the Choose To Challenge pose and share on social media using #ChooseToChallenge #IWD2021 to encourage further people to commit to helping forge an inclusive world.
They are inviting all genders, groups, organizations etc. to send your Raise your Hand High #choosetochallenge photos to them and they will share these images from all over the world on their site & social media feeds. Simply go to the website and click on the tab 2021 theme and scroll down to the Submit IWD Image button.
As a female-owned business, we have committed to support International Women’s Day by donating 10% of all proceeds whether in-store or online, between March 8th & March 12th, 2021, to the Simcoe & Grey County Shoebox Project for Women.
The Shoebox Project for Women is a registered charity that collects and distributes gift-filled Shoeboxes to women impacted by homelessness in communities across Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom.