International Women’s Day is an occasion marked by people around the world. This year is notable in part because it is the 100th anniversary of the international aspect of the day.
As noted on the United Nations website, “(In 1910), the Socialist International, meeting in Copenhagen, established a Women’s Day, international in character, to honour the movement for women’s rights and to assist in achieving universal suffrage for women. The proposal was greeted with unanimous approval by the conference of over 100 women from 17 countries, which included the first three women elected to the Finnish parliament. No fixed date was selected for the observance.”
“As a result of the decision taken at Copenhagen the previous year, International Women’s Day was marked for the first time (March 19, 1911) in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland, where more than one million women and men attended rallies. In addition to the right to vote and to hold public office, they demanded the right to work, to vocational training and to an end to discrimination on the job.”
One hundred years later, much work remains to be done. In March 2007, Robert Fox, the executive director of Oxfam Canada, wrote in the Toronto Star about the Harper government that, “(their) removal of equality from the mandate of the Status of Women department, the gutting of its budget and the closure of most offices sends a chill down the spines of women around the globe who are committed to ending discrimination. Equally disturbing is the prohibition on federal funding to support advocacy and campaigning on women’s rights. These actions, after eliminating the Court Challenges program that played such a key role in protecting women’s and minority rights, send exactly the wrong signal to the world about Canada’s commitment to promoting full respect for women’s rights.”
For information about International Women’s Day 2010 and events taking place in Canada and around the world, please go to http://www.internationalwomensday.com/.