|March 1, 2006
March 8, 2006 is International Women's Day - Freedom and Equality for Women
|March 8, 2006 marks a celebration of economic, social, cultural and political
achievements of women around the world - International Women's Day. Established in
1977 by the United Nations, this special day provides an opportunity to celebrate the
progress made to advance equality for women and to assess the challenges that
remain. This special day also provides an opportunity to consider steps to bring about
equality for women in all their diversity. Canadians will celebrate International Women's
Week from Sunday, March 5, to Saturday, March 11, 2006, with the highlight being
International Women's Day on March 8.
The idea of having an international women's day was first put forward at the turn of the
20th century amid rapid world industrialization and economic expansion that led to
protests over working conditions. Women from clothing and textile factories staged one
such protest on 8 March 1857 in New York City. The garment workers were protesting
what they saw as very poor working conditions and low wages. The protesters were
attacked and dispersed by police. These women established their first labor union in the
same month two years later.
More protests followed on March 8th in subsequent years, most notably in 1908 when
15,000 women marched through New York City demanding shorter hours, better pay and
voting rights. In 1910, the first international women's conference was held in
Copenhagen by the Socialist International and an 'International Women's Day' was
established, which was submitted by the important German Socialist Clara Zetkin. The
following year, IWD was marked by over a million people in Austria, Denmark, Germany
|Among the relevant historic events, International Women's Day it commemorates the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire at New York in
1911, where over 140 women lost their lives. A lack of safety measures was blamed for the high death toll.
On the eve of World War I, women across Europe held peace rallies on March 8, 1913.
Demonstrations marking International Women's Day in Russia proved to be the first stage of the Russian Revolution of 1917.
Following the October Revolution, the Bolshevik feminist Alexandra Kollontai persuaded Lenin to make it an official holiday, and
during the Soviet period it continued to celebrate "the heroic woman worker". However, the holiday quickly lost its political flavour and
became an occasion for men to express their sympathy or love to the women around them - somewhat similar to Western Mother's
Day and Valentine's Day mixed together. The day remains an official holiday in Russia (as well as in Belarus, Macedonia, Moldova,
and Ukraine), and is observed by men congratulating women (any woman) and giving them flowers and gifts.
The 2005 Congress (conference) of the British Trades Union Congress overwhelmingly approved a resolution calling for IWD to be
designated a public holiday in the United Kingdom.
On December 6th each year in Canada, Canadians remember the 14 women who were violently murdered in 1989 at the Ecole
Polytechnique in Montreal. Each year, the CAW pledges to continue its work of eliminating violence against women and demands
government action to stop such violence. Building on the momentum of the successful 15 Days-15 Ways Campaign last year, the
CAW, in conjunction with the Canadian Labour Congress, organized a national campaign that began on December 6, 2005 and
which carries through to March 8, 2006 - International Women’s Day.
This March 8th - Celebrate the Struggles, the Achievements and the History of International Women's Day!