International Women’s Day: Why Does It Matter?

“Now all we need is to continue to speak the truth fearlessly, and we shall add to our number those who will turn the scale to the side of equal and full justice in all things.”  — Lucy Stone

In this age of social media, every day is a celebration of something: beer, roses, pandas and today, women.  Some might assume that International Women’s Day is just another one of these come-lately holidays but it actually has a long and rich history.

First observed by the suffragettes way back in 1909, it was intended to highlight the contributions of women and draw attention to the women’s rights movements that were simultaneously happening around the world.  After various iterations, the United Nations officially declared International Women’s Day as a holiday in 1975. Over time Women’s Day has been used to celebrate accomplishments, draw attention to various issues, and call for action like voting rights and equal pay.

I’ve seen people comment “why do we need International Women’s Day?”  Not to be flip, but if you have to ask, you might be part of the problem.  I invite you to read more about this here.

In the United States and around the world, women still make a fraction of what their male counterparts earn.  It’s gotten better over the years, but we are still a long way from pay equity.  While we have unprecedented numbers of women serving in public office, everything from local offices up to national leadership remains mostly men.

Women are disproportionately victims of violence and crime and in many countries, it is perfectly legal to hit your spouse.  Girls are still being married off against their will as children, and having their bodies mutilated.

I could cite facts all day but the simple fact is that as long as women are seen as “less than” in society, as long as women are impacted by violence and discrimination and harassment and disparate treatment, we have work to do.  And of course women of color and women who identify as LGBTQ are impacted even more by all of these issues.

So today, and every day, it’s important to celebrate the accomplishments of women,  and to come together to address inequity.  We have work left to do, lot of it.

“If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back, and get it right side up again! And now they is asking to do it, the men better let them.”  — Sojourner Truth

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