International Women’s Day is a world-wide holiday, officially observed on every continent each year on March 8.
Have you heard of it? Or perhaps I should ask instead, when did you first hear of it?
Yes. International Women’s Day is not a holiday that most of us have grown up with. For an explanation for that, you might jump over to my 2015 post on IWD, particularly Position #2 — A and B — where I mention the holiday was very big in the Soviet Union, following their revolution in 1917. China adopted the holiday in 1922 and Spain, in 1936. You get the idea.
Finally, the UN got involved and introduced March 8 as UN Day for Women’s Rights and World Peace. The US, not to be left behind, declared the entire month of March, Women’s History Month, which quickly gave rise to:
This 2011 article from Radio Free Europe summarizes the history of this day even better, though the headline, Women’s Day Largely Forgotten in the West, is a bit misleading
I first heard of International Women’s Day when I lived in Kazakhstan in 2005. There (and then), searching always for something familiar, I likened it to a cross between Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day. The women teachers, me included, were given flowers and cards. Some of the married ones talked excitedly of their husbands fixing their dinner that night. Actually, not “some,” a few. Well, maybe one or two.
At the risk of seeming to digress, I will quickly add that there is an International Men’s Day too. It’s observed on November 19. And, being the unleashed vixen I am, I will only mention in the briefest of passings though with some amusement, that November 19 is also World Toilet Day.
I did not make that up. And please know that the lack of adequate toilet facilities worldwide is a very serious problem. Just because you are able to “flush and forget” in your own home does not mean the majority of people on this planet don’t have a significant solid waste problem. So, I won’t minimize World Toilet Day. As for International Men’s Day, well, there’s got to be a story there. But that is for another time. Perhaps sometime in November?
Let’s get back to …
In preparing for this post, I collected stories on the different ways people have chosen to observe this holiday.
Those who choose to CELEBRATE International Women’s Day, look back in time to showcase women’s achievements and contributions.
They see the day as one designed to honor the progress women have made in the social, economic, cultural, and political arenas.
There are breakfasts, luncheons, and dinners — with speakers and without — planned around the world. There’s a “HerStory” program at nearly every university; I wish I could hear some of them. There are book launches, art shows, film screenings, jazz performances, potlucks, and poetry readings.
Two, however, stood out for their sheer uniqueness.
- Trekking to the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro, arriving at the summit on March 8. You’ve missed the departure date for 2016, but don’t worry, there’s always next year. Travel companies market the popular IWD treks like this one.
- Brewing a special beer. The Pink Boots Society, an international organization which “empowers women beer professionals to advance their careers in the beer industry,” is brewing a special beer in honor of Women’s Day 2016. Now, that sounds like great fun. They’ll gather on March 5 in Geelong, Victoria, Australia “to create a salt and pepperberry gose which will then become available to buy in April.”
International Women’s Day also brings numerous CALLS-TO-ACTION
Side-by-side with the celebrations, people are also uniting in a variety of activities focused on calling attention to the plight of women and the challenges ahead.
This year’s IWD theme is “taking the pledge for parity,” with a dedicated hashtag for use in social media, #pledgeforparity.
Viewing IWD as a time to review how far women have come, and listen, learn, and reflect on how far women still have to go to achieve gender equity, IWD has resulted in many calls-to-action across the globe.
Audrey Hepburn was the granddaughter of a baron, the daughter of a Nazi sympathizer, spent her childhood and teens doing ballet to secretly raise money for the Dutch resistance against the Nazis, and spent her post film career as a goodwill ambassador of UNICEF, winning the presidential medal of honor for her efforts. And history remembers her as pretty.
Female genital mutilation, sex trafficking, bride stealing, rape culture, and glass ceilings still thrive throughout the world. IWD sets aside one day of the year to call special attention to these issues and others.
As an example of the distance still to be covered, an article in TheGlobalist.com from earlier last month, written by Tara Sonenshine, summarizes the gap in gender equity within the political arena, worldwide. Turns out Indira Gandhi and Golda Meir were “the exceptions that prove the rule.”
The political and human rights theme designated by the United Nations runs strong, and political and when social awareness of the struggles of women worldwide are brought out and examined in a hopeful manner, people celebrate the day by wearing purple ribbons.
Others are taking to the streets of their local communities.
In article from Religionnews.com, author Janet Tappin Coelho reports that the pro-abortion lobby in Sao Paulo, Brazil where the Zika virus is running rampant, has “won support from Católicas Direito de Decidir (Catholic’s Right to Decide) a nongovernmental Sao Paulo-based women’s organization. This week it called on its 33,000 Facebook members to “take to the streets” on March 8, International Women’s Day, to protest and raise awareness of the need to protect Zika infected women in a country where abortion is a crime.
And, there are gatherings that both look back in celebration and ahead with renewed vigor.
There are “Sister Circles” you can join. On March 8, at 7 pm LOCAL TIME, they invite all women to come together, to unify, to share their stories. Here’s a three-minute video of their call.[learn_more caption=”Join us for a Global Wave of Sister Circles on International Women’s Day!”] Thousands of women are gathering locally in circles around the world to connect, uplift, and transform together.
Sisters, daughters, friends, grandmothers … transforming jealousy, competition, comparison, gossip, shame, and exclusivity into Sacred Sisterhood as we ignite the Divine Feminine. You’re Invited to join a local Sister Circle in your community by finding one on our map: unify.org/map/sisterhood OR Sign up here to either facilitate a Sister Circle or align your current women’s group/circle with us: eepurl.com/bP7vYv
We will also have an interactive inspiring Virtual live event as we unite to empower the women of the world on the new moon!
7pm in YOUR Local Time Zone
Sign up to receive information on being a Unify Sister Circle Facilitator here: eepurl.com/bP7vYv (You will receive a Sister Circle Guidebook, Organizer Toolkit, Theme Guide and more!)
Men we need you too! Share this event with all the women in your life and click here to receive more information on what you can do to actively support the blossoming of women world wide: eepurl.com/bQdLq5
International Women’s Day has historically been focused on Women’s Equality, which we fully support. Thanks to noble men and women much has been done in this regard, and there is still much to do- including the healing of our hearts. This Women’s Day we’re adding our voice to the mix with a call for inner transformation and global sisterhood through new moon sister circles. We are aligning with a New Moon in Pisces and a Solar Eclipse! The new moon is a time for beginnings on a personal and collective level, the energy of Pisces in particular is about visions, dreams, and connecting with our intuition. Together we will co-create and live a new dream of women in the world!
“A circle of women may be the most powerful force known to humanity. If you have one, embrace it. If you need one, seek it. If you find one, for the love of all that is good and holy, dive in. Hold on. Love it up. Get naked. Let them see you. Let them hold you. Let your reluctant tears fall. Let yourself rise fierce and love gentle. You will be changed. The very fabric of your being will be altered.” – Jeanette LeBlanc
ORGANIZING A SISTER CIRCLE: Whether it’s your first time facilitating a Sister Circle, or you have been doing it for years – we are honored to support you with a Sister Circle Guidebook, Theme Guide, Organizer Kit, and private facilitator facebook group. If you are already facilitating a new moon circle, we invite you to join us by incorporating a special Unify Heart and Intention Meditation so we can harness the power of our collective Global Sisterhood focus together. Sign up here to receive your free Sister Circle Facilitator resources: eepurl.com/bP7vYv
As we transform ourselves, we transform the world #GlobalSisterhood
Their website is women.unify.org or visit their facebook page.
There are other marches.
If Mt. Kilimanjaro is not your cup of tea (and you will find yourself in New South Wales, Australia come March 8), you can join a 650 meter march from Gosford Station to Kibble Park. Here’s the path they’ll take:
Men are joining in, reaching out to women this year too.
“Since the dawn of time men have been sitting around with other men trying to figure out the mysteries of women,” Jacob Devaney writes in the Huffington Post in a blog entitled, A Place for Men in a Circle of Women.
I’ve merely scratched the surface. Want ot learn more? Here’s the official website for the 2016 International Women’s Day
How about you? How are you inclined to celebrate IWD this year?
Next week: Daylight Savings Time Redux
I have no idea when I first heard of the day. I’ve never celebrated it as a holiday, the way you saw it celebrated in Kazakstan. A few times I was a speaker on women’s history topics for Women’s History Day/Month. I work on issues about women all year, so I don’t know that I will do anything special, other than recognize the day.
(As an aside–I can’t “Like” this because it says the “Like” is still loading–even after I reloaded the page. Also, I never get notifications about comments from your posts.)
Hi Merril, Yes. I think once Hallmark gets a line of cards out, IWD will feel more like a real holiday here. That does appear to be the real “hallmark” of what constitutes a holiday in this country.
And, this just in! March may be Women’s History Month, but it’s also: (Wiki to the rescue)
Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month
Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month
National Kidney Month
National Nutrition Month
Women’s History Month
Irish-American Heritage Month
Endometriosis Awareness Month
National Reading Awareness Month
Music in Our Schools Month
Social Work Month
Colon Cancer Awareness Month
Bleeding Disorders Awareness Month
Hemophilia Awareness Month
National Athletic Training Month
Turns out there’s a list for every month!
Oh, as for the Like button still loading. Yes again. My web guru is down with the flu, but we shall shortly be looking at that. Thanks. I believe it’s gone live on the older posts, which is really bizarre. I call it the work of cyberspace gremlins.
You have done an amazing amount of research here including all the quotes. Your reference to Audrey Hepburn led me to ferret out some of her most famous. One that applies to your theme here: “A quality education has the power to transform societies in a single generation, provide children with the protection they need from the hazards of poverty, labor exploitation and disease, and given them the knowledge, skills, and confidence to reach their full potential.”
She also said God gave you two hands: one to help yourself and the other to help others. She was beautiful and smart, that woman!
Hi Marian. I’m struck by how much more I’ve learned about Audrey Hepburn since she died than I ever knew while she lived. Pity. She was multi-faceted.
Thanks also for your kind comments on the post. I had fun learning more about it, and reading of all the varied ways folks elsewhere have of celebrating it.
Here’s for finding the funding essential to guarantee that a “quality education” exists for all our citizens, not just the very lucky.
Janet, I have heard about IWD for years but never to the extent that you have presented here. Thank you for all your gargantuan research and treasure trove of ideas. I feel very enlightened. I’ve never celebrated it as a holiday but you have highlighted some very interesting ideas. Your point about Audrey Hepburn calls attention to the need to celebrate the contributions women make beyond a pretty face.
Hi Kathy. Perhaps we should plan our 2017 IWD Mt. Kilamanjaro trek together?
Nah. I agree. Lunch sounds much better.
Thanks for stopping by.