Kay: Today is International Women’s Day

German poster for International Women’s Day, March 8, 1914. This poster was banned in the German Empire.

How could I (almost) have missed it? Today is International Women’s Day, a global holiday celebrated on March 8 to commemorate the cultural, political, and socioeconomic achievements of women and, as they say, fight like hell for the future.

Since I’m short on time, I’m cribbing most of this post from Wikipedia, so feel free to go there (and elsewhere around the web) and read more. Here’s the gist: International Women’s Day originated from labor movements in North America and Europe during the early 20th century and was officially sanctioned by (mostly) communist and socialist movements and governments until it was popularized by feminists in the 1960s, when it became celebrated as a day of activism for equal pay, equal economic opportunity, equal legal rights, reproductive rights, subsidized child care, and the prevention of violence against women.

International Women’s Day has been criticized recently as diluted and commercialized, particularly in the West, where corporations use it to promote vague notions of equality, rather than social reforms. But it still has the power to pack a punch: in Tehran in 2007, police beat hundreds of men and women who were planning a rally to commemorate the day. Police arrested dozens of women, who were released only after weeks of solitary confinement, interrogation, and 15 days of hunger strikes.

Which demonstrates, I think, among other things, how much men in government fear the power of women.

4 thoughts on “Kay: Today is International Women’s Day

  1. In the UK, in 1918 the Representation of the People Act was passed which allowed women over the age of 30 who met a property qualification to vote. Although 8.5 million women met this criteria, it was only about two-thirds of the total population of women in the UK.
    Due to the deaths of the First World War, there were over a million more women than men in Britain, and the age limit was introduced to prevent women from being in a political majority.
    Lord Cecil is on Parliamentary record explaining it.

    • That’s a fascinating slice of history. And it’s amazing that two-thirds of the women in the UK in 1918 had property, making them eligible to vote. One of the things I find so interesting about women’s suffrage is that the men in power all thought that the women, if granted the vote, would vote as a block. It never seemed to occur to them that women might have a variety of opinions. Which just shows you, I think, that those guys really *don’t* have a clue about women. 🙂

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