Today is International Women's Day, when women worldwide join together to demand equality, justice, and human rights through a one-day demonstration of social and economic solidarity.
Unlike most years however, the celebration is being turned into a protest following the recent "A Day Without Immigrants" (which forced many businesses to shut down), and the "Women's March on Washington" (which drew over one million demonstrators the day after Trump's inauguration). Organizers have dubbed this March 8th "A Day Without A Woman," and are helping to coordinate protests around the globe.
The urgency of women's issues is helping highlight this historic holiday, which originated over a century ago. In 1908, 15,000 women marched through New York City to demand shorter hours, better pay, and the right to vote. In 1917, a Women's Day march in Russia kickstarted the Russian Revolution. In 2017, the long-established movement appears to be reshaping itself in the wake of a new administration as many fear civil, human, and reproductive rights will begin to be rolled back. In addition to protesting the ongoing injustices of wage inequality, sexual harassment, discrimination, and job insecurity, today's climate has fueled a renewed focus on IWD's roots, and is motivating demonstrators in over 50 countries to withhold the social, economic and cultural contributions women make to society everyday.
It's an effort that has led to real change in the past. Iceland's first female Prime Minister was elected in 1976. The previous year, on October 24th, 1975, Icelandic women didn't go to their jobs and refused to do any household work, including child-rearing. With ninety percent of the countries' women participating, telephone services, theaters and airlines had to shut down for the day. News printers and typesetters weren't able to deliver the news, and bank executives had to work as tellers to keep the banks open. Fish processing factories, which employed a mostly female workforce, were forced to stop operating. The country came to a near standstill, and the following year Iceland’s parliament passed a law guaranteeing equal rights for women and men. Every ten years, on the anniversary of the Day Off, women stop work early to demonstrate their important positions and their continuing struggle for equality.
Today we recognize the economic importance and power of women worldwide and praise organizers and participants in the Women's March movement for emerging as vocal champions of human rights.
Please support the women in your life on this special day. If you can, go out and participate!
Women's rights are human rights.