A woman in Quito making wonderful crafts for sale
Mongolian singer at a conference we attended
International Women’s Day (IWD)
This day is celebrated on March 8th each year, in varying ways in different parts of the world, supported by many different organizations and institutions. In some countries it is a national holiday but not in others, in which case they celebrate in other ways: a fun run, a dinner gala, conferences, breakfasts, festivals, tech talks etc.
Each year, the UN picks a different theme for IWD. In 2015 it was “Empowering Women. Empowering Humanity.”
Ronel in Australia is co-captain of this boat
Graduate students of Beijing Agriculture University visit the Forbidden City
The 2016 theme is “Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step It Up for Gender Equality”, or “Closing the Gender Gap, or Gender Parity.”
These goals are all good, but I think it’s also a time to just celebrate women and honor them all, whether famous, powerful or not; to acknowledge what they do, however menial, as it contributes to the good of their society in some way.
To that aim, here are some pictures we’ve taken over the years of various women in different countries, involved in a number of differing activities, or just smiling for us.
Marching in the Gay Pride parade, St Louis
Handicrafts seller at the Equator, Equador
But first, a bit of history.
On March 19, 1911 the first official International Women’s Day was celebrated in Europe. At that time, in many European nations, as well as in the USA, women’s rights and women’s
Curio vendor on Grenada Island
suffrage were hot topics.
It was honored in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland on 19 March. More than one million women and men attended IWD rallies campaigning for women’s rights to work, to vote, to be trained, to hold public office and to end discrimination.
However, many people believe that there were earlier events that were a build-up to this first official IWD. Some say the first International Women’s meeting was on March 8, 1907 in the US. This was to commemorate the garment workers’ strike 50 years earlier, an event that many think was the initial trigger for a deeper consciousness about women’s issues.
Guide at the Secret Garden in Seoul, Korea
Kirsty from Norway
What happened 50 years before? On March 8, 1857, garment workers in New York City marched and picketed, demanding improved working conditions, a ten-hour day, and equal rights for women. Police broke their ranks, quite violently.
One year after the women’s gathering in 1907 there was another march. On March 8, 1908, the garment workers’ sisters in the needle trades in New York marched again, honoring the 1857 march, demanding the vote, and an end to sweatshops and child labor. The police were present on this occasion too.
Old meets new in Kyoto
Traditional Mayan-style dances in Merida, Mexico
The first official meeting in 1911 came about because earlier in 1910 at a meeting in Copenhagen, German socialist Clara Zetkin proposed an International Women’s Day, to commemorate the US demonstrations and honor working women the world over.
After 1911, because of WW1, the Depression, and WW2, interest in a women’s day was low, but in the 1960s the women’s movement began a new revival, mainly because there was a growing sense that “history” as taught in school was incomplete and had a male bias.
A street vendor on Insadong, Seoul, Korea
In 1975, the United Nations began celebrating International Women’s Day (IWD) on 8
Mayuko from Japan enjoys a bridal shower in USA
March during International Women’s Year 1975. And in 1987, a group of women in the US campaigned with representatives from museums, schools and libraries to expand the celebration, and Congress responded by declaring the entire month of March as National Women’s History Month.
On the 100th anniversary of IWD, March 8, 2011, the IWD Organization collaborated with women’s organizations around the world to present gatherings and celebrations in 152 countries. In the United States, President Barack Obama honored the day and the then-Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, launched the “100 Women Initiative: Empowering Women and Girls through International Exchanges“. In the UK, celebrity activist Annie Lennox lead an amazing march across one of London’s iconic bridges, to raise awareness in support of the global charity, Women for Women International.
Nora helps sell flowers in KZN, South Africa
A worker at the Gouyave Nutmeg Station on Grenada explains the spice to us
A new employee at Uva Mira Wine Estate in South Africa explains a wine to Rod M
So, since those early years, International Women’s Day has taken on a global dimension for women in both developed and developing countries. Other well-known charities such as Oxfam have actively supported IWD, as have many celebrities and business leaders. Increasingly, International Women’s Day is a time to reflect on progress made, to call for change and to celebrate small acts of courage and determination by ordinary women, who have tried to help their countries and communities.
See the official website:
Last but not least, my mother Joy Vermaak (left) with a friend. Mothers make all things possible!
Last, but not least, my mother-in-law Peggy Mackie
Colonial times in southern Africa
April gets married in a semi-traditional Shona wedding in Zimbabwe