International Women's Month
By Parinitha Marnekar
March is the month of the woman. With International Women’s Day on March 8th and the Universal Women’s Week from March 10th to 16th, March is the month we celebrate and remember the women who dedicated their lives to ensure equal opportunity for all women. For International Women’s Day, it’s worth learning about the movement’s origin and what women endured to bring it to life.
International Women’s Day grew out of the labor movement to become a United Nations recognized the annual event. In 1908, 15,000 women marched through New York City demanding shorter working hours, better pay and the right to vote. A year later, the then Socialist Party of America declared the first National Women’s Day. The idea to then make the day international came from a woman called Clara Zetkin. Zetkin suggested the idea during the 1910 International Conference of Working Women in Copenhagen. There were 100 women there from 17 countries and the idea was unanimously agreed to by all. This year we will be celebrating the 108th International Women’s Day after it first being celebrated in 1911 in Austria, Denmark, Germany, and Switzerland.
This day for a lot of women represents women’s achievements over time, celebrates their right to vote and equal pay. It is interesting to see how women celebrate this day all over the world. In Russia and many other countries, people gift flowers to the women in their lives as a way to thank them for the strong women they are. In China, many women are given a half day off work on March 8th, as advised by the State Council. In Italy, International Women’s Day or la Festa della Donna is celebrated with the giving of mimosa blossoms. This tradition although tough to track down when it began is believed to have started in Rome after World War II.
This year, International Women’s Day has started a campaign, #BalanceforBetter. This is aimed towards building a more globally gender-balanced environment. From grassroots activism to worldwide action, we are entering an exciting period of history where the world expects balance, fairness, and justice.
In the past few years, women have risen to the top rings of success in the fields of education, retail, business, STEM, arts, and across other various industries. These are a few women entrepreneurs and activists who are effectively changing the landscape for women around the world:
Arianna Huffington: Although Arianna is known for launching “The Huffington Post”, a notable publication online, she also co-founded the ‘Detroit Project’ for lobbying American automakers to build cars and SUVs that have higher fuel efficiency and use alternative fuels. In 2009, she was named as number 12 in Forbes’ first-ever list of the Most Influential Women in Media.
Melinda Gates: Melinda Gates has been on the news now more than ever promoting the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation which focuses on key issues related to the environment and women’s rights. She’s increasingly visible in shaping the foundation strategy, solving tough global challenges from education and poverty to contraception and sanitation.
Malala Yousafzai: Malala became a world sensation when she won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014 for her struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education. Having won this incredible prize at the age of 17, she is the youngest Nobel laureate in history.
Manal Al Sharif: Manal is known best for the video she posted of herself driving on social media which threw the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in disarray. She was thrown in jail for nine days but kicked off a movement that resulted in the conservative country reversing its laws to allow women to drive earlier this year. Al-Sharif is also the founder of the Women2Hack Academy, a program that aims to foster tech talent in Saudi Arabia, with a focus on information security.
Joy Buolamwini: Joy is a computer scientist and digital activist based at the MIT Media Lab. As founder of the Algorithmic Justice League, she identifies bias in artificial intelligence and develops practices for accountability. Buolamwini's TED Talk on the algorithmic bias has been viewed over one million times. Her New York Times op-ed on the dangers of facial analysis technology galvanized lawmakers to investigate the risks posed by this technology.
We will be featured more amazing women on our social media pages this entire month. Follow us to learn about these women and their stories.
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