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History of International Women’s Day

by Lainey Harlow, Junior Editor

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The female scope is so often lacking in our classrooms and textbooks. Women’s History Month aims to encourage appreciation and awareness for the women who have so often taken the backseat in the public eye.

March 8 marks the 43rd annual American celebration of International Women’s Day, but women have gathered in solidarity since long before its debut.

The Women’s Suffrage movement came forth in the late 18th century, specifically sparked by Mary Wollstonecraft’s 1792 publication of A Vindication of the Rights of Women. Sarah Grimke and Margaret Fuller ushered the early American suffrage movement, with many suffragettes later joining forces with abolitionists.

By the turn of the twentieth century, however, women were still fighting for suffrage, seemingly to no avail. February 28, 1909 marked the first National Woman’s Day, an early prototype of today’s International Women’s Day. According to the United Nations, this early celebration of women’s toil and sacrifice of women commenced in honor of the seamstresses and garment workers who protested against unfair labor laws in 1908. By 1910, women of the Socialist International from seventeen countries agreed on an international women’s celebration, but no official date was agreed upon.

The next year, March 19 was named International Women’s day in several European nations.

From 1914 to 1916, International Women’s Day became a force for protesting World War I across Europe, according to the University of Chicago. Although far overshadowed by the Russian Revolution, a massive demonstration of Russian women protested against living conditions, famine and waning supplies took place on February 23, 1917.

Soviet nations, including Russia’s satellite nations and China, celebrated International Women’s Day into the the 1970s.

Finally, on March 8, 1975, the United Nations officially adopted the celebration of International Women’s Day. Second Wave Feminism aimed primarily to smash the idea that women were a subservient “Second Sex,” as illustrated by the earlier publication of Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex, and the celebration of International Women’s Day encouraged the very solidarity and awareness that the movement hoped for.

Today, in the midst of the #Metoo and #Timesup movements, I encourage you to look into local events and organizations involved in the movement. This year’s theme, #PressforProgress, aims to usher in gender inclusivity and unity within the feminist movement.

In Las Vegas, the Women in Health Information and Technology Roundtable IT Mentor Meetup will take place on March 8. From 9:30 to 10:30 am at the Venetian-Palazzo-Sands Expo center and will give attendees the opportunity to learn about leadership and career opportunities.

Even if you choose not to attend a local event on Women’s Day, keep in mind the women who fought for hundreds of years for your right to vote, work, and find a voice. 

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