• Dayna Morgan & Crystal Gorjans

International Women’s Day

Sunday, March 8 was International Women’s Day and I have been thinking of when this day was started, why it was started, and what progress has been made since its inception.

The first International Women’s Day was held on 28 February 1909 in New York; it was organized by the Socialist Party of America in remembrance of the 1908 strike of the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union.

The garment industry in New York at this time was full of sweatshops and people, mostly young women, worked long hours for little money in terrible conditions, often locked in one room for the entirety of their shift.

On 25 March 1911, there was a terrible fire in one of these sweatshops. The fire caused the deaths of 123 women and 23 men who died from the fire, smoke inhalation, or falling or jumping to their deaths. The workers were mostly recent immigrant women, ages 16 to 23.

In 1913, Russian women observed their first Women’s Day on the last Sunday in February.

Although there were some women-led strikes, marches, and other protests in the years leading up to 1914, none of them happened on March 8. In 1914 International Women’s Day was held on March 8, possibly because that day was a Sunday, and now it is always held on March 8 in all countries. The 1914 observance of the Day in Germany was dedicated to women’s right to vote, which German women did not win until 1918.

Google has celebrated International Women’s Day with a doodle presenting women in roles once held solely by men such as astronauts, scientists, athletes, teachers, musicians, chefs and writers. The doodle links to stories highlighting why this event is still so crucial over a century after it was first launched. The doodle’s caption reads: “Happy International Women’s Day!’.

The theme for www.internationalwomesday.com this year is #MakeItHappen. This hits home for us at Britt Land. As a core value for how our company lives and the importance we place on delivering exceptional customer service, this theme is a nice reminder of a ‘no excuses’, ‘everybody in’, philosophy.

In Emma Watson’s recent speech to the UN, she asks “If not me, who? If not now, when?”. We can all play a part in bringing awareness and action to solve gender inequality. Our actions don’t have to be as big as addressing the UN. Start in your own backyard. Be aware of unintended discriminatory comments and what they’re affect can be. Stand up for equal pay, and encourage women to go after leadership roles. Listen to the political and social leaders and take interest in their priorities and opinions to support women & girls.

The #HeforShe campaign is an awesome example of how anyone, and everyone can and should be involved.

If the word feminism makes you uncomfortable, revisit what it actually means.

The Chinese proclamation “Women hold up half the sky” from Mao Zedong touches on the importance, magnitude and impact women have in the development and prosperity in communities worldwide.

As per an article I saw for International Women’s Day, there is still a long way to go before we can say there is equality between men and women and there are still major obstacles for women: violence against women is still a pandemic, too few women are in leadership roles and most workplaces don’t make enough accommodations for working mothers, especially in the United States. There areas listed in the article are:

1) Education: Since 1995, we’ve reached a point where girls and boys worldwide are enrolling in primary school at almost equal rates. That is a huge step forward. The next step is secondary school, where the gender gap widens again.

2) Maternal Mortality: In the last 25 years, maternal mortality has dropped by 45%, which means that half of the women who survive childbirth today wouldn’t have made it in a different time. But there’s still more work to do — 800 women a day die from basic pregnancy complications, mostly in the developing world.

3) Water access: Water is an important issue for women, since in many developing countries girls are responsible for fetching water, a task so time-consuming and difficult that it can keep them out of school or put them in danger of being attacked. Between 1990 and 2010, 2 billion people gained access to clean drinking water, relieving the burden of water-fetching from girls. Still, in Sub-Saharan Africa, women spend 16 million hours for day getting water.

4) Leadership: Since 1995, the number of women serving in legislatures has nearly doubled — but that still only translates to 22% of politicians worldwide.

Something as simple as access to clean drinking water was something I didn’t even consider, but seeing it in this article made me think about how dangerous and time consuming it is to obtain an item I can just walk to a tap for. The water I receive is clean and convenient. I don’t have to walk miles for water that is dirty or polluted. I am not losing hours of my day or exposing myself to dangers just so I can have a glass of water to drink, use in cooking, or bathe with.

We are making strides and there is hope for a near future of gender equality. We are more aware now of the issues facing women, we have a history of women who fought for their rights and paved the way for others to follow. There is a campaign (#HeforShe) that makes the issue of gender equality something that is not just for women but has invited men into the cause. We are all empowered to make the changes necessary so everyone can be safe, healthy, and have the opportunities to accomplish anything.

Happy Belated International Women’s Day.

© 2019 by BRITT Land & Engagement

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