About International Women’s Day
March 8th is International Womens’s Day which was originally called ‘International Working Women’s Day’, it was first celebrated on the 28th of February, 1909, in New York in remembrance of the 1908 strike held by the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union when 15,000 workers, marched through New York city’s lower east side to demand social and political rights.
The first International Women’s Day was held five years later in 1914, on the 8th of March which was chosen because it was a Sunday, and the majority of women would have the day off work thus allowing them to participate in the events that were organised, and has been celebrated on that date ever since.
The day was declared a national holiday in the Soviet Union in 1917, and it was adopted by the UN in 1977. Since 1996, the UN has assigned a theme to every IWD. This year’s theme is “Be bold for change”. According to the UN, it is “a day when women are recognize for their achievements without regard to divisions, whether national, ethnic, linguistic, cultural, economic or political. It is an occasion for looking back on past struggles and accomplishments, and more importantly, for looking ahead to the untapped potential and opportunities that await future generations of women.”
13 Remarkable Women
Today’s ‘Google Doodle’ March 8th 2017 features Thirteen “female pioneers” – not all of whom are household names, most of them we may never have heard of and yet all of them achieved success in their chosen fields against what seems like insurmountable odds.
- Ida Wells an African-American journalist and activist born in Mississippi in 1862, she wrote prolifically on the fight for women’s suffrage as well as the struggle for civil rights.
- Lotifa El Nadi Egypt’s first female pilot born in 1907 in Cairo Her achievements made headlines around the world when she flew over the pyramids and competed in international flying races.
- Frida Kahlo a Mexican painter and activist born in Mexico City in 1907, her work was loved by Women for its honest depiction of the female experience.
- Lina Bo Bardi a Brazilian architect, born in Italy in 1914, promoted the social and cultural potential of architecture and design. Her furniture and jewellery designs are also celebrated.
- Olga Skorokhodova was a scientist born into a poor Ukranian family in 1911, she lost her sight and hearing at the age of five. Overcoming these difficulties in the most amazing way, she became a researcher in the field of communication and produced a number of scientific works concerning the development of education for deaf-blind children.
- Miriam Makeba a South African singer and civil rights activist was born in Johannesburg in 1932, was discovered as a singer of jazz and African melodies. She became hugely successful in the USA wining a Grammy for her work , she then became involved in the civil rights struggle in the US, as well as against apartheid in her native South Africa, writing political songs. Following her death President Nelson Mandela said that “her music inspired a powerful sense of hope in all of us.”
- Sally Ride an American astronaut and physicist, born in Los Angeles in 1951 joined NASA in 1978, she became the first American woman and the third woman ever to go into space in 1983 at the age of 32. She later worked as an academic at the University of California, San Diego.
- Halet Cambel a Turkish archaeologist born in 1916, became the first Muslim women to compete in the Olympics in the 1936 Berlin games as a fencer. She bravely declined an invitation to meet Adolf Hitler on political grounds, and after the conclusion of the Second World War, she trained as an architect and later worked as an academic in Turkey and Germany.
- Ada Lovelace also known as ‘Countess of Lovelace’ was an English mathematician and writer born in 1815, she became the world’s first computer programmer. The daughter of the poet Lord George Byron, she is chiefly known for her work on Charles Babbage’s proposed mechanical general-purpose computer known as the Analytical Engine, and was the first to recognise the machine had applications beyond pure calculation, creating the first algorithm intended to be carried out by such a machine.
- Rukmini Devi an Indian dancer and choreographer credited with reviving Indian classical dance, was born in 1904 and presented her form of dance on stage in the 1920s which was considered in very bad taste. She features in India Today’s list of the “100 people who shaped India”. She also worked to re-establish traditional Indian arts and crafts and was passionate about animal rights.
- Cecilia Grierson an Argentine physician born in Buenes Aires in 1859, became the first woman in Argentina to receive a medical degree having previously worked as a teacher. At this time Women were barred from entering medical school and so she first volunteered as an unpaid lab assistant before being allowed to train as a doctor. She was recognised for her work during a cholera epidemic and went on to found the first nursing school in Argentina. The treatment she received during her training at medical school helped to shape her as an advocate for women’s rights in Argentina.
- Lee Tai-young Korea’s first female lawyer and judge born in 1914 in what is now known as North Korea, founded the country’s first legal aid centre and fought throughout her career for women’s rights . Her often quoted refrain was, “No society can or will prosper without the cooperation of women.” She was married, worked as a teacher, and had four children before she was able to begin her legal career after the Second World War. Becoming the first woman to enter the National University of Seoul . She fought for civil rights in the country, and in 1977 was arrested and given a three-year suspended sentence and a ten year disbarment.
- Suzanne Lenglen the French tennis champion born in 1899, popularised the sport winning 31 championships and dominating the women’s game for over a decade. She was one of the first international women sports stars, and was the first female tennis celebrity. Aged 15 she became the youngest ever winner of a major championship and during her entire career lost only seven matches. She defended her decision to turn professional by stating that she had a right to make a decent living in the days when the grand slam tournaments paid a relative pittance to the winners.
Men As Feminists
An article in the Lifestyle section of today’s Independent newspaper showing a clip made by a group of young men from an Australian school identifying as feminists. The video clip shows the answers these young Men were given when they asked the Women in their lives, Mothers, Aunts, Sisters, Teachers, Friends what Feminism meant to them. It takes just a few seconds to watch but leaves us begging the question? If we all just pause for a moment and asked ourselves “where would we be without Women”, I think there really is only one answer “nowhere” – put simply we would not exist.