The International Woman

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International women’s day was first celebrated over 100 years ago in 1911, but this isn’t when things started. In 1908, 15,000 women marched on the streets of New York City, demanding shorter hours, better pay, and, most importantly, the right to vote.

Women’s suffrage was nothing new in 1908, with its start being in the early 18th century; you may have heard of the Seneca Falls Convention of 1848, where 300 men and women gathered under the collective call for women’s rights, of which included famous reformers such as Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Frederick Douglas, Lucretia Mott, and Sojourner leading its organization and attendance. The convention brought up 12 resolutions in a document called the “Declaration of Sentiments,” and while 11 passed unanimously, the 9th resolution, which would give women the right to vote, was only passed due to the pressure of Stanton, but ultimately and unfortunately led the convention to ridicule. The Declaration of Sentiments was not a legally binding document, but it was a cornerstone of the suffrage movement and led to the passage of the nineteenth amendment in 1920.

11 years earlier through, in 1909, the first National Women’s Day was observed across the country on February 28th, and women continued to celebrate this day on the last Sunday of February. The next year, International Women’s Day was honored for the first time in Austria, Denmark, Germany, and Switzerland on March 19th, with over 1 million men and women attending IWD rallies campaigning for women’s rights to work, vote, hold public office, and end gender-based discrimination. In 1913, it was agreed upon globally that International Women’s Day was to be held on March 8th, according to the Gregorian Calendar. It wasn’t, however, until 1975 that International Women’s Day was marked for the first time by the UN, and not until 2011ー100, years since the first IWD, that President Barack Obama proclaimed March to be Women’s History Month.

Alas. even with an entire month to recognize us, times called for something more “in your face”, and thus in 2017, the first Women’s March was held to combat harmful policy and rhetoric tied to the Trump Administration. It marked the largest single-day protest in American history, with approximately 1-1.6% of the U.S. population directly participating in the marches across the nation, though similar marches were taking place worldwide, making their way to all seven continents. It was clear that no amount of marches, protests, or social movements could stop what was coming; gender-based discrimination has since reared its ugly head, from the upheaval of Roe V Wade to social media trends where men would “joke” about graphically assaulting and murdering their romantic partners or the notorious April 24th trend, also known as “National Rape Day” in which social media users urged their peers to commit various acts of sexual violence upon unsuspecting women around them. Though there was no evidence that points to the rise of threat associated with this trend, it has been consistently whispered about online following its debut in 2021.

Regardless of whether or not we have a national or global holiday or a whole month dedicated to us, our oppression is still alive and thriving, and it will continue to do so. We, just as those far before us, must continue to reshape the world around us to secure what is rightfully ours; safety, equity, and respect. — Haley Berger


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