Wednesday, March 8, 2017

March 8: International Women's Day

March 8: International Women's Day

International Women's Day is when women on all continents, often divided by national boundaries and by ethnic, linguistic, cultural, economic and political differences, come together to celebrate a tradition that represents at least nine decades in the struggle for equality, justice, peace and development.

The idea of an International Women's Day first arose at the turn of the last century, which was marked in the industrialized world by a period of expansion and turbulence, booming population growth, and radical ideologies.

The official holiday had its beginnings in 1908. That year in the United States, the Socialist Party appointed a Women's National Committee to Campaign for the Suffrage. After meeting, this Committee recommended that the Socialist Party set aside a day every year to campaign to women's right to vote, a big step for socialists and one welcomed by the women working for suffrage.

On March 8, 1908, Branch No. 3 of the New York City Social Democratic Women's Society sponsored a mass meeting on women's rights. Then, in 1909, American socialist agreed to designate the last Sunday in February as National Women's Day; that year and the next, socialist women throughout the U.S. held mass meetings. International Women’s Day was celebrated as a socialist holiday honoring working women in the early days if its observance.

The Charter of the United Nations, signed in San Francisco in 1945, was the first international agreement to proclaim gender equality as a fundamental human right. Few causes promoted by the United Nations have generated more intense and widespread support than the campaign to promote and protect the equal rights of women.

Since then, the UN has helped create a historic legacy of internationally agreed strategies, standards, programs and goals to advance the status of women worldwide. 

Over the years, United Nations action for the advancement of women has taken four clear directions: promotion of legal measures; mobilization of public opinion and international action; training and research, including the compilation of gender desegregated statistics; and direct assistance to disadvantaged groups. The theme for International Women's Day 2017 is #BeBoldForChange.

Will you #BeBoldForChange on International Women's Day 2017 and beyond by taking groundbreaking action that truly drives the greatest change for women.

Each one of us - with women, men and non-binary people joining forces - can be a leader within our own spheres of influence by taking bold pragmatic action to accelerate gender parity. Through purposeful collaboration, we can help women advance and unleash the limitless potential offered to economies the world over.

A central organizing principle of the work of the United Nations is that no enduring solution to society's most threatening social, economic and political problems can be found without the full participation, and the full empowerment, of the world's women.

With the resurgence of feminism in the late 1960s in America came a renewed interest in the day. Feminists found it ready-made holiday for the celebration of women's lives and work and began promoting March 8 as such. These efforts resulted in revitalized holiday in countries where it had been traditionally celebrated and inspired new interest in a number of countries where the holiday had previously not been observed.

There are more working women in the U.S. today than ever before and that number is expected to grow. Yet women face inequity when they enter the workforce, as they find themselves paid less than men for the same or comparable jobs. Women continue to earn only 78 cents on the dollar to their male counterparts. To match men's earnings for 2016, women have to work from January 2016 to April 2017—an extra four months.

The more things change, the more they stay the same – for women. On March 8, 1857 women workers in New York City strike for higher wages, shorter hours, and better working conditions.

This March 8 women are still striking. Today is billed as A Day Without Women to show the economic power of women’s work, wages and efforts.

On International Women's Day, March 8th, women and our allies will act together for equity, justice and the human rights of women and all gender-oppressed people, through a one-day demonstration of economic solidarity.

Not everyone can go on strike, but there are things you can do:

1.     Women take the day off, from paid and unpaid labor
2.     Avoid shopping for one day (with exceptions for small, women- and minority-owned businesses).
3.     Wear RED in solidarity with A Day Without A Woman

What would the financial impact of A Day Without Women be? According to the Center for American Progress’ calculations based on the labor share of the gross domestic product, or GDP, and women’s relative pay and hours of work, women’s labor contributes $7.6 trillion to the nation’s GDP each year. In one year, women working for pay in the United States earn more than Japan’s entire GDP of $5.2 trillion. If all paid working women in the United States took a day off, it would cost the country almost $21 billion in terms of GDP. Moreover, women contribute many millions of dollars to their state’s GDP each day, making their work crucial to the health of their local economies as well.

In New York State, the value of women’s work (even with unequal pay) is $1717.3 million! That is not small change. Just imagine if women started using the power of their economic impact to change public policy!

"In the same spirit of love and liberation that inspired the Women's March, we join together in making March 8th A Day Without a Woman, recognizing the enormous value that women of all backgrounds add to our socio-economic system--while receiving lower wages and experiencing greater inequities, vulnerability to discrimination, sexual harassment, and job insecurity. We recognize that trans and gender nonconforming people face heightened levels of discrimination, social oppression and political targeting. We believe in gender justice."

So say we all.

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