Caring For Women Around the World: International Women’s Day

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One criticism of American feminism is that it has been too insular, too focused on issues that affect only American women. (This criticism is related to the one that it is also too white and middle-to-upper-class.) In recent decades this has been changing, but I think we are still too focused on the U.S. This isn’t surprising considering how few Americans pay any attention to what is going on around the world.

Participation in International Women’s Day, which is celebrated on March 8th, can help to correct that. IWD was first proposed by Clara Zetkin, a German activist who worked with Rosa Luxemburg and was a fighter for women’s rights. The first official observance was in 1911.  (Next year will be its centennial celebration.) It was first celebrated by the United Nations in 1975, which also proclaimed that year to be “International Women’s Year.” (For a timeline relating to IWD, click here.)

1,000 Iranian women march in Tehran on IWD

IWD is now an official holiday in China, Armenia, Russia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bulgaria, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Macedonia, Moldova, Mongolia, Tajikistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan and Vietnam. The tradition sees men honouring their mothers, wives, girlfriends, colleagues, etc with flowers and small gifts. In some countries IWD has the equivalent status of Mother’s Day where children give small presents to their mothers and grandmothers.

And yet IWD is still relatively unknown in the U.S. For example, there are 235 events scheduled in the United Kingdom and Ireland for this year but there are only 90 in the U.S.  However, these are only events that have registered with the IWD website; we can only hope that there are more out there we just don’t know about.  If you know of or are hosting an event and would like to share your information, click here.

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Ellen Keim

Ellen is a freelance writer, essayist and copy editor, living with three cats and a husband in Columbus, OH.

3 thoughts on “Caring For Women Around the World: International Women’s Day”

  1. This web site is very inspiring. And yes Susanne I do agree that the answer to hunger does lie with the women. If we teach the women a trade that they can use to bring in a dicent income, they will be able to feed themselves as well as their children. It will also provide a way for the women to sustain herself if they need to get out of a dameging relationship. You see, some women are hungry for a whole different set of reasons.

  2. Alot of people don’t realise that the majority of people hungry around the world are women… and yet these women produce 60-80% of the food! The answer to hunger, I really believe lies with women. You can also send a message of solidarity to women across the world for International Women’s Day at http://www.wfp.org/women

    1. Thanks for your comment. I hadn’t thought of the world hunger problem that way before, but you’re right. And it’s not only the women who are hungry but usually their children as well. If we target women and help them to have access to adequate food, we will also be helping the children. Thanks also for the plug for International Women’s Day.

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