By Yolanda Miranda
In 1977, The United Nations proclaimed March 8 as International Woman’s Day (IWD) honoring the struggle and contributions women had made that empowered them as equal members of society. Contributions to society women have made throughout history, and they continue to this day. A woman’s right to vote was fought throughout the 19th century and was achieved only in early 1900’s. Women were involved in workers having an eight hour work day, also in stopping women from having to bring home work unable to compete in the sewing factories, involving their children to help them out. Women were strong in ending and legislating Child Labor Laws, where children were forced to work to help their families in the factories and later on in the agriculture field, which wasn’t that many years ago. I personally know, since I come from a migrant farmworker family and I, along with other children, worked in the fields as young as five years old. Our education was based on the harvest seasons and the numbers of schools we attended since we followed the crops.
On March 8, women throughout the world celebrate this day with events concerning the various issues still effecting women today, their families and society. A theme is used to celebrate this day in communities or in the Women Studies Department in education facilities. They are organized and planned by women and open to the public or students to raise awareness of the contributions women of all ages, color and sexual preference have made in their communities and in connection to global issues as well.
Many of the national women groups in this country will be holding local marches in their communities or attending the largest one in Washington, D.C., sponsored by Code Pink and Women for Peace, to be held on March 8. They plan to collect over 100,000 petition signatures “To Stop the War “and present to officials in Washington, D.C.
Other communities will be holding events celebrating women’s role and contributions in their own communities, celebrating this special day by holding special events. Which pays tribute to individual women who have unselfishly committed themselves to better their community in the areas of health, legal, peace activist, organizing tenants for affordable or unfair evictions due to development, organizing or volunteering programs to end violence against women, counseling women for substance abuse, many in prison due to their habit brought on by many social factors or interpersonal relationships with men, feeding the homeless, ending exploitation and sexual harassment in the workplace, working with children, women who help support their families earning the minimum wage, married or single and women in the art field. The categories women are involved in to fight for justice, treat women with equality and dignity are endless.
International Women’s Day (IWD) is diverse in encompassing women who are single, divorced, married, old, young , gay and interconnecting them globally. There is no discrimination when it comes to our gender contribution to make a better tomorrow for the nations or the world. Under this society, the acknowledgments women receive in this country are on Mother’s Day, Holidays, Valentine’s Day and Birthdays, earning millions for the advertising greeting cards companies. Take a moment to think: have you ever seen seen a greeting card in celebration of International Women’s Day? Since 1901, twelve women have been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, compared to eighty men and twenty organizations. Since women have a tendency to work collectively, a movement last year was organized to nominate “1000 Women for The Nobel Peace Award” because women’s role in promoting peace within families, communities and their societies are taken for granted. This effort is to recognize women’s courage across the globe in combatting and identifying the visible efforts women make to end injustice against women, which continues to face today’s world.
Women athletics are recognized by participating in the Olympic Games, by earning a medal they are assured to earn a high income in their field or by advertising commercials that do not contribute to women’s causes. Earning a gold medal, silver or just by participating in the Olympic games is an honor for the athlete who trained so hard. In reality, how many women can afford to train long, hard hours if they need to work? A majority of women who are not politically- informed have no idea of this proclamation celebrating women’s contributions, much less some men. The answer is clear: if left up to the advertising market who is unwilling to increase women’s consciousness pertaining to this special day, women who are unaware remain unaware of the United Nations IWD Proclamation. Unless it’s brought to attention by political third parties or political women organizations. March is known as woman’s month coined by the educational women’s studies in colleges and universities. But if you are not in college, affiliated to a socialist political party or political women’s organization, March 8 is stretched out into a month rather than celebrated when it was intended to. We celebrate our birthdays on the day we were born, not a day before or a day later, not for the whole month; traditional holidays on the same date, every year. So why then is IWD not celebrated on March 8, on a yearly basis? So it becomes as important as any other special event on the calendar yearly.
Once again, we women have the responsibility to tackle this issue by celebrating it, raising political consciousness to each other, in our communities and internationally.
How, you might ask? Simply by uniting in our own communities to hold an event on March 8 or by attending to hear women speakers from other countries addressing the issues effecting women in their countries. In Europe and in third world countries IWD is celebrated with a strong political theme, and at the moment it is to End the Occupation in Iraq/ Stop The War. In this case they are more advanced than us, since the proclamations was signed twenty-nine years ago. American women played a major role during the Vietnam War to end it, and we need to unite again to Get Out of Iraq to save our young men and women one more time. United, not Divided, we slay the dragon’s head.
If you are reading this story, ask a man or woman if they know about International Woman’s Day and what it stands for? Don’t be surprised if their response is that they have never heard of it. But since we know, we can educate others. And, don’t forget to thank your mother, her contribution in giving birth goes beyond acknowledging her only on Mother’s Day.
This article is a re-print from the March 2006 Free Venice Beachhead