Monday, 5 March 2012

International Women’s Day

I have been busy the past few days trying to come up with a read-worthy topic for this blog, searching the web, reviewing books, watching the news and reading magazine and newspaper articles, but nothing.  Then it hit me, International Women’s day is coming up, March 8th 2012 the international community will celebrate and pay homage to women the world over. This got me thinking the origins of International Women’s Day and the past accomplishments of women over the past decades and the challenges women still face today.
In today’s world, we often take for granted the opportunities and possibilities that are conferred upon us as 21st century women. It was a little more than a century ago that woman weren’t allowed to vote, own property or be considered as individual persons as opposed to property of their husbands or fathers. The international community has come a long way from perceiving women as brood machines whose sole purpose was birthing children, maintaining the household and pleasing their husbands. Nowadays women have rights of their own, being able to vote, own property, attend school, enter into legal contracts without consent of their fathers or husbands, and even run for parliament and president. However, these rights and privileges weren’t always applicable to women. The progress made over the past century required the strength, determination and perseverance of several strong women to make the necessary changes to the male dominated world. International Women’s Day pays homage to all the women who have striven for equal rights and opportunities for women and also the achievements and struggles women faced throughout the past decades.
International Women’s Day is celebrated in many countries around the world. It is a day when women are recognized 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.[1] International Women's Day is the story of ordinary women as makers of history. It is rooted in the centuries-old struggle of women to participate in society on an equal footing with men.[2]
At the turn of the 20th century the world experienced a period of expansion, turbulence, booming population growth and radical ideologies.[3] International Women’s Day first emerged from the activities of labour movements at the turn of the twentieth century in North America and across Europe.[4] The history of International Women’s Day can be traced back to the year 1909 when the United States observed the first National Woman’s Day, which was designated in honour of the 1908 garment workers’ strike in New York, where women protested against working conditions.[5] However, it was not recognized internationally until 1911 as a result of the Copenhagen initiative, in which more than one million men and women rallied together in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland.[6] The rallies addressed the issues of women’s right to vote and hold public office, women’s right to work, vocational training, and for an end to discrimination on the job.[7]
Since its establishment in the early 20th century, International Women’s day has assumed a new global dimension for women in both developing and developed countries. This new international women’s movement has been further strengthened by the United Nations and its many conferences on women’s rights, which aim at building support for women’s rights and participation in the political and economic arenas.[8]

In short, International Women’s Day is a moment to look back and commemorate all the struggles and achievements made by women, for women. It is a moment to celebrate the tremendous acts of courage and determination by ordinary women who have made considerable contributions to women’s rights and changed history for the better in their countries and communities. More importantly, it is an opportunity to look to the future and take note of the struggles still facing women today. These struggles may prove challenging and seem impossible to overcome, however, women have been in this position before and have succeeded in changing the way the world viewed them. Furthermore, it provides women with the inspiration and motivation to continue in the struggle of improving their lives for the better. It is a moment to call for change and focus on the improvements to be made in the future. Lastly, International Women’s Day comes but once a year, it commemorates the strength, courage and determination within every woman and demonstrates what women can achieve once they commit and organize accordingly.

 By: Mellaney A. H. Rodriguez

[1] United Nations, Women Watch <> accessed 1 March 2012.
[2] United Nation, International Women’s Day <> accessed 1 March 2012.
[3] United Nations, Women Watch <> accessed 1 March 2012.
[4] United Nations, Women Watch <> accessed 1 March 2012.
[5] United Nations, Women Watch <> accessed 1 March 2012.
[6]United Nations, Women Watch <> accessed 1 March 2012.
[7] Idem.
[8] Idem.


  1. A day to celebrate womanhood! A day to push forward reforms for the betterment of women worldwide. A day to equip women organizations all over the world with a sole vision of promoting equality and respect for the woman race. It is international women's day

  2. It is international woman's day! Let's join hands and celebrate the beauty and pride of womanhood. It is an opportune time to bring to the surface those hidden issues befalling women: poverty, illiteracy, oppression, rape in war zones, domestic violence and abuse, and lots more. It is a day to not only celebrate womanhood but to fight for womanhood.

  3. I am proud to be an African woman. Let's join hands with all women world over and celebrate International Women's day. Thanks for sharing!