Today, March 8th, is the 100th annual International Women’s Day!
International Womens’ Day was the brainchild of a woman by the name of Clara Zetkin in 1910. Zetkin was leader of the ‘Women’s Office’ for the German Social Democratic Party and at the second International Conference of Working Women in Copenhagen, she proposed establishing day of celebration and activism, to be held on the same day every year, around the world. Thanks to Zetkin, in 1911, the first International Women’s Day was celebrated in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland. According to IWD history, “more than one million women and men attended IWD rallies campaigning for women’s rights to work, vote, be trained, to hold public office and end discrimination.” A century later, IWD is celebrated around the world, with thousands of events happening today and this week, hopefully in a city near you.
This year’s theme is “Equal access to education, training and science and technology: Pathway to decent work for women.” Previous years’ themes have focused on women’s health and on ending violence against women and girls. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon released a statement in which he makes the connection between access to technology and women’s rights:
Cell phones and the Internet, for example, can enable women to improve the health and well-being of their families, take advantage of income-earning opportunities, and protect themselves from exploitation and vulnerability. Access to such tools, backed up by education and training, can help women to break the cycle of poverty, combat injustice and exercise their rights.
Here at Feministing, every day feels like International Women’s Day, but on March 11, for an all-too-short twenty-four hours, it feels like the rest of the world is on board. And this year, The Guardian has listed Jessica Valenti as one of its Top 100 Women in writing and academia, beside luminaries like Alice Walker, Judith Butler, J.K. Rowling, Doris Lessing, Margaret Atwood and Maya Angelou. Here’s what they had to say about her, and about Feministing:
If feminism is enjoying a revival among young women, much of the credit should go to women such as Jessica Valenti, 32. The creator of Feministing.com, a site set up for younger feminists who felt their voices were ignored, helped spark an explosion of blogs and online communities that effectively shifted the movement online.
This International Women’s Day, I want to thank you for being part of the Feministing community and part of the online feminist community at large. When they next write the history of International Women’s Day, or of the global fight for gender equality, feminist blogging will be written into that history. You, our readers and commenters and community bloggers, are a part of the story of gender equality and the fight against sexism. We’re making history here, even if each of us plays only a small part. There’s plenty to keep fighting for – feminism’s work is far from done. As Ban Ki-moon noted, “being female too often means being vulnerable.” In homes, workplaces and in conflict zones around the world, he reminded us, women and girls are subject to unacceptable discrimination and violence.
He’s right, of course. But there are hundreds of thousands of women and men, online and off who are working hard – every day, not just one out of 365 – to end that violence, discrimination and inequality. And on International Women’s Day, even if it’s just for one day, it feels like the rest of the world is working with us.