|International Women's Week
Ending Violence Against Women - Action for Real Results
|March 8, 2007 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 4, to Saturday,
March 10, 2007, 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 and Switzerland.
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!
Related: Celebrate International Women’s Day: March 8 2007 - “Let’s Put Equality Back on Track”