Honoring the working women who fought before us...
Originating over 100 years ago, International Women’s Day or Working Women’s Day celebrates the political, economic and social gains of women won through struggle.
On March 8, 1857, New York women took to the streets to protest dangerous working conditions for women textile workers. Exactly 51 years later, 15,000 women marched through New York demanding shorter hours, the right to vote and and end to child labor.
Although International Women’s Day has its origins in the United States, it was not recognized as a day of international significance until 1913. Then, in 1917 in Russia, International Women’s Day demonstrations demanding “bread and peace” in response to the 2 million deaths of Russian soldiers in World War I merged with another strike, sparking the revolution to remove the Czar. Subsequently, the provisional government granted women the right to vote. To this day, International Women’s Day serves as a reminder that our place is in the streets and that our work is not done.
In the years since the first Women's Day, women in the United States have fought for and won access to education, to work outside the home, to birth control and abortion and the the right to vote, among other gains. These achievements, however, are not guaranteed and remain under constant attack. A prime example is the right wing’s incessant attacks on abortion rights. In the United States and around the world, women have not yet achieved full social, political or economic equality. We continue fighting to keep the gains we have made and mobilizing to demand full equality. This is the way we honor International Women’s Day: as a celebration of struggle and a day to look ahead towards continuing to build the struggle for women's equality.
This International Women’s Day, WORD continues the important work our foremothers began. WORD has called for actions across the country that will focus on the fight to stop violence against women everywhere. Violence against women remains an entrenched social problem taking the form of domestic violence, rape and harassment. One in five women in the United States has been raped and one in four have experienced domestic violence. These numbers increase for women of color. In addition, 45 percent of hate killings target transgender women. Within the past year in the legislative arena, not only have reproductive rights been under attack, the Violence Against Women Act has also been targeted.
VAWA provides funding for the investigation and prosecution of violent crimes against women as well as supportive programming to victims. While important, reauthorizing this piece of legislation, including its expansion to include Native American rape victims and members of the LGBT community, is not enough to stop violence. Recognizing that violence against women is rooted in a patriarchal system of exploitation, we cannot simply settle for a bipartisan deal made at the legislative level but must push for what we want through a women’s movement. We have been inspired by mass movements from India to Steubenville, Ohio, which have demanded justice for the women who were attacked and exposed the “blame the victim” mentality so prevalent in law enforcement and society at large.
Of course, violence against women is not the only challenge we face. Currently, women earn 77 cents for every dollar that a man earns. This decreases to 69 cents and 60 cents for Black and Latina women, respectively. We are in the streets to mark this International Women's Day with actions that connect poverty and economic inequality to violence and discrimination against all women.
WORD honors the achievements women have made and is continuing the struggle for equality. From March 7-10, we are celebrating International Women’s Day in struggle. We say no to racism and bigotry, we want equal pay, and we demand a stop to the violence against women everywhere!