Yesterday, March, 8, 2011 marked the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day. I love celebrating any type of achievement or group, and was eager to learn more about the history of this holiday. International Women’s Day, which was originally termed “International Working Women’s Day”, is marked on March 8th every year since 1911, and has become something of a global celebration of women. Hillary Clinton posted a video and message yesterday, reflecting on how meaningful it was to receive an enthusiastic response at the 1995 Beijing Olympic games for her speech about human rights being inclusive of women’s rights and vice versa. As I stopped to think about this message, I eagerly agree about the importance for us all to realize that women’s rights are equal to men’s rights, and that all humans should receive the same civil privileges. There has been much progress in recognizing this and making changes, however we still have a ways to go. Hillary cites this point in her message, describing how women continue to be affected by poverty, illness, war, and abuse.
On International Women’s Day, women of all ethnic, social, political, spiritual, and cultural backgrounds stand together to represent the strong and respectable women that they are. This is one of the most beautiful things about this holiday — a type of gathering that is noticeably absent among men — that we can put our differences aside and unite with our similarities and dreams. On this day, women look back at all of the struggles they have endured in pursuit of justice, equality, peace, and each and every woman is acknowledged for making history while standing together. You don’t need to be a First Lady, a spiritual leader, or a political activist to make a difference and to spread the word about women’s rights. History is abundant with evidence of women struggling to achieve equal footing to their male counterparts. In Ancient Greece, Lysistrata initiated a sexual strike against men in order to end war, during the French Revolution, Parisian women marched on Versailles to demand suffrage for women — and a similar pursuit followed later in the United States. As the Industrial Revolution came to the United States at the turn of the century, so did an opportunity for new growth and change in ideology.
So where have we gotten today with honoring the goals of International Women’s Day? As women still trail men in what they earn and traditional gender roles are still maintained, there is still some thought to be put to this question. However, to me this holiday is not about arguing and demanding change, as some of these roles are functional and in place for a reason. This holiday is more about recognizing the amazing strength and success that inhabit women around the world. Women pursue challenging careers while tending to infant children. Women earn doctorate degrees while taking care of loved ones. We are champions at dual careers and we must stop and applaud ourselves for our achievements. We are sisters in all of these roles and this is something that no one can ever take away from us.
As events take place in more than 100 countries to commemorate International Women’s Day, I am proud to be among role models that I respect, learn from, and lend a hand to as we move forward on our paths of life.