March 08, 2021
This morning my sister let me know today is International Women’s Day. The earliest Women’s Day observance was called “National Woman’s Day” and was held on February 28, 1909, in New York City. It was organized by the Socialist Party of America. In August 1910, an International Socialist Women’s Conference preceded the general meeting of the Socialist Second International in Copenhagen, Denmark, which proposed establishment of an annual “Women’s Day.” The following year on March 19, 1911, International Women’s Day (IWD) was marked for the first time. Women in Europe and America marched and demanded they be given the right to vote and to hold public office, as well as to protest sex discrimination in employment. In 1914, IWD was held on March 8 in Germany, possibly because that was a Sunday. The day is now celebrated on March 8 for all countries.
I have been grateful as my birthday has been acknowledged and celebrated across America. Martin Luther King Jr. Day (January 15th) is a federal holiday in the United States marking the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. Acknowledgement of King’s birthday was first suggested soon after his assassination in 1968. Federal support began to take hold as discussion around the day took place during the 1970’s and 1980’s. It was finally signed into law in 1993 and was first celebrated in 1996. Due to the Uniform Monday Holiday Act (effective January 1, 1971), it is observed on the third Monday of January. While not always on the 15th, it is on the actual date every six years. I call this David L. Schirer Day.
UN Women (and IWD) is now sponsored by the United Nations and is dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women. As a global champion for women and girls, UN Women was established (July 2010) to accelerate progress on meeting women’s needs worldwide. Amid the challenges offered by the world-wide pandemic, the 2021 theme is #ChooseToChallenge. As stated on the UN Women website, “A challenged world is an alert world. Individually, we’re all responsible for our own thoughts and actions – all day, every day. We can all choose to challenge and call out gender bias and inequality. We can all choose to seek out and celebrate women’s achievements. Collectively, we can all help create an inclusive world. From challenge comes change, so let’s all choose to challenge.” This is a challenge worthy to acknowledge.
Thoughts: I also received a quote from Serena Williams concerning IWD’s 2021 theme. “Every woman’s success should be an inspiration to another. We’re strongest when we cheer each other on.” The year 2020 brought many challenges. While some hoped that 2021 would be different, it certainly did not start as such. The challenges are great and cut across various intersections of American and world culture. Just as each woman’s success is an inspiration to another, it should also be an inspiration to all. Great things are accomplished when individuals step forward to face a challenge, and then inspire others to take up the cause. This year has promise for great accomplishments if we acknowledge and embrace the challenges. Do the work. Follow the science. Change is coming and it starts with you.