Down Etc is a woman-owned business celebrating women all year by partnering on women’s health initiatives and fostering other woman-owned businesses. On March 8, 2023, we join the world in the celebration of women on International Women’s Day. In addition to cheering the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women, International Women’s Day is a call to action to raise awareness about women’s equality, to lobby for gender parity, and to fundraise for female-focused charities.
Celebrating Around the World for Over 100 Years
International Women’s Day is recognized as a call to arms, a celebration, and a remembrance of those who have gone before. Its origins can be traced to 1909 when the Socialist Party of America created Woman's Day. In 1910, the idea of an international women’s day was proposed during the Conference of Working Women held in Copenhagen, Denmark. The group of over one hundred women from seventeen countries voted unanimously to approve the proposal. The first celebration was held on March 19, 1911, nine years before women achieved the vote in the United States.
One week later, 146 immigrant workers were dead, most of them women, in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire, in New York City. The tragedy drew attention to the poor working conditions of women, particularly immigrant women. The recently founded International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union organized workers in the women’s clothing trade; however, The Triangle Factory was a non-union shop. After the fire, the ILGWU proposed an official day of mourning and helped with the relief effort for survivors and families of victims. The owners of the factory were acquitted of any wrongdoing. In settled civil suits, the owners paid $75 per life lost but made no admittance of any wrongdoing.
March 8 was marked as the annual day of recognition in 1913. On the eve of World War I, women rallied and marched against war and in support of suffrage across Europe and in London. In 1917, Russian women began the “Bread and Peace” strike resulting in the abdication of the Czar and the immediate grant to women of the right to vote.
The German capital of Berlin made International Women’s Day a public holiday in 2019, joining more than 20 countries that had already done so. It has not been recognized as an official holiday in the United States, although it has been proposed. The United States Secretary of States released a statement last year, March 8, 2022, recognizing "the world is facing several significant challenges that disproportionately impact women and girls, including the climate crisis, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and humanitarian emergencies and conflict in Ukraine, Ethiopia, Yemen, and in so many other places, including the significant curtailment of the rights of women and girls in Afghanistan." He also hosted the 16th annual International Women of Courage Awards recognizing and celebrating "women, in all their diversity, who have dedicated their lives to promoting human rights, gender equity and equality, peace, justice, the rule of law, and accountability – often at great personal risk or sacrifice."
We Need International Women’s Day Now as Much as Ever
According to the United Nations, “no country has achieved gender equality.” The United Nations called for gender parity by 2030. Even before the pandemic, that seemed like a longshot. In an article appearing in 2019, journalist Iliana Magra provided numbers illustrating the lack of parity and the likelihood it is a long way off. The statistics range from the extremely low percentage of female CEOs of Fortune 500 companies in the United States to the extremely high number of girls around the world who are married off before the age of 18. As of the date of the article, only 23.7 percent of representation in national parliaments was female. In the United States, in 2021, women comprised 24% of the Senate and 27.4% of the voting members of the House, in spite of the fact that women accounted for approximately 51% of the population. In 2023, women occupy 25% of seats in the Senate and 28.5% of the voting members in the House of Representatives although the United States Census Bureau statistics show the population of women continues to exceed that of men.
The social and economic impacts of COVID-19 have fallen hardest on women as has been true in past outbreaks of infectious disease. Women are caretakers of children at home, as well as ill family members; they “are disproportionately disadvantaged by reduced access to sexual- and reproductive-health services”; and they often hold part-time or insecure positions that are the first to be eliminated. Additionally, women are placed at a greater risk of domestic violence. Some countries have ignored the increased domestic violence while others, including Italy, Kenya, and Australia, have “braced for the onslaught” with helplines and telephone counseling services.
Domestic violence has increased in the United States with higher unemployment and financial strain. Suggestions for addressing this increase have included letting victims report abuse in nontraditional places like pharmacies and using “coded reporting’ in which victims use code words to ask for help. The authors of an article on the increased domestic violence offer social media as a means for victims to get help through “hidden ‘customer service’ chat rooms on platforms that link to the national hotline.”
Recognize International Women’s Day with Us
The theme for International Women’s Day 2023 is “Embrace Equity” and "to truly embrace equity, means to deeply believe, value, and seek out difference as a necessary and positive element of life. To embrace equity means to understand the journey required to achieve women's equality." The celebrations across the United States will include political rallies, business conferences, and government and corporate events.
A world with gender parity requires multiple approaches by many individuals, organizations, and countries. International Women’s Day reflects the need for coming together to achieve gender equality as “According to the World Economic Forum, sadly none of us will see gender parity in our lifetime, and nor likely will many of our children. Gender parity won't be attained for well over a century."
You can search the International Women’s Day website for events in your area. We look forward to continuing the celebration of women.
Originally posted February 23, 2021; Updated Links July 29, 2022; updated content February 21, 2023