Commemorating 100 Years of International Women's Day

Evan Manvel

Commemorating 100 Years of International Women's Day

Today marks the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day. The Day was first celebrated as a Socialist political event - International Working Women’s Day - and has since has grown over the years to encompass a broad set of activities recognizing the importance of women and women's rights.

From Wikipedia:

The first International Women’s Day was observed on 19 March 1911. 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... In the West, International Women's Day was first observed as a popular event after 1977 when the United Nations General Assembly invited member states to proclaim March 8 as the UN Day for Women's Rights and International Peace.

The day is an official holiday in 28 countries, including Afghanistan, China, Russia, Bulgaria, and Burkina Faso. Of course, as my no-nonsense friend says, “We get a single day.”

This year’s UN-sponsored theme is “Equal access to education, training and science and technology: Pathway to decent work for women.” But groups and countries around the world are each doing their own thing, as explained on the International Women’s Day website.

Many events remind us we’re worlds apart. In Iran, organizers are commemorating the day by protesting the misogynist mullahs’ regime, and the three decades of torturing and executing tens of thousands of courageous women. In the U.K., Daniel Craig is dressed in drag for a public service announcement.

Here in the States the White House just released “Women in America: Indicators of Social and Economic Well-Being,” the first such federal report since 1963. It’s an interesting read. Women make less money than men, are more likely to live in poverty, and are more likely to suffer violence from their partner. On the bright side, more women than men get college and graduate degrees, and overall violence is decreasing.

At home, we’ve got our work to do in Oregon politics. We’ve had just one female governor, only two of our statewide offices are held by women, and all seven of Oregon’s Congressional members are men.

In recognition of the day, the Century of Action Steering Committee is hosting an event in Salem at 5:30pm at the capitol. Secretary of State Kate Brown, Governor Barbara Roberts, and Norma Paulus will be releasing the 2011-12 Oregon Blue Book, the Century of Action website, and the Oregon Heritage Commission's Declaration of Statewide Celebration for the Oregon woman suffrage centennial. And KBOO is hosting 24 hours of programming by and for women.

It's a day for action, and for reflection. In the long road to equality, we’ve come a good distance since the first International Working Women’s Day some hundred years ago. But we have many, many more miles to go.

Many thanks to the women of the world. My hat's off to you all.

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