Mar 5, 2012
March 8 is International Women’s Day, a day celebrated around the world for more than 100 years. But it is seldom celebrated in the United States where the first Women’s Day took place in 1909. That celebration was called by the Socialist Party, to commemorate a strike of women textile workers in 1908.
At a 1910 conference of women from 17 countries preceding the Socialist Second International meeting, two German women proposed a strategy to promote equal rights for women, including suffrage. In 1911, International Women’s Day saw more than a million people throughout Europe demonstrating for women’s rights.
In a number of countries, women have managed to acquire the same formal rights as men. Yet everywhere in the world, women remain victims of violence and discrimination. For that reason, these rights remain laws on paper not carried out in fact or by the customs of a particular place.
In the U.S. women earn 77 cents on average for every dollar men earn, and the difference in pay tends to get worse in a recession. In this country, the right to an abortion and even to obtain birth control has come under worse and worse attack – to the point that, in most areas of the country, abortion is not in fact available, and birth control barely available.
In 2005, an average of three women were murdered every day by a husband or domestic partner. Women in the U.S. experience almost five million assaults and rapes every year. In 2006, that translated to more than 230,000 women sexually attacked – according to official reports. The actual number is much higher, because most assaults go unreported.
Everywhere the struggle of women for the right not to be victimized is an ongoing and urgent fight.