International Women’s Day

By WWN Intern Rachel Cohen

Looking for an excuse to celebrate women and have some fun this weekend (as if you need one!)? Fret not, for once again International Women’s Day is upon us! Though this March 8th holiday is rarely acknowledge here in the US, my celebration will include having fun with my best female friends and writing multiple papers for my gender and women’s studies classes. In the words of the incredible Donna Meagle:

A short history on the holiday, care of the UN:

1909: The first National Woman’s Day was observed in the United States on 28 February. The Socialist Party of America designated this day in honour of the 1908 garment workers’ strike in New York, where women protested against working conditions.

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 build support for 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.

1911: As a result of the Copenhagen initiative, International Women’s Day was marked for the first time (19 March) 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 women’s rights to work, to vocational training and to an end to discrimination on the job.


1913-1914: International Women’s Day also became a mechanism for protesting World War I. As part of the peace movement, Russian women observed their first International Women’s Day on the last Sunday in February. Elsewhere in Europe, on or around 8 March of the following year, women held rallies either to protest the war or to express solidarity with other activists

1917: Against the backdrop of the war, women in Russia again chose to protest and strike for ‘Bread and Peace’ on the last Sunday in February (which fell on 8 March on the Gregorian calendar). Four days later, the Czar abdicated and the provisional Government granted women the right to vote.

iwd-women-protesting-cost-of-food-1917Russian Women Demonstrate For Bread, 1917

Since those early years, International Women’s Day has assumed a new global dimension for women in developed and developing countries alike. The growing international women’s movement, which has been strengthened by four global United Nations women’s conferences, has helped make the commemoration a rallying point to build support for women’s rights and participation in the political and economic arenas. Increasingly, International Women’s Day is a time to reflect on progress made, to call for change and to celebrate acts of courage and determination by ordinary women who have played an extraordinary role in the history of their countries and communities.

via: UN WomenWatch

While IWD has a rich history of demonstration, pride, and appreciation, it is not celebrated as such in the US; it is largely ignored here. What I love about this holiday is that it moves beyond the rest of Women’s History Month and looks forward. It gives us a chance to see what we still need to do to ensure the success of women around the world. The international aspect of this holiday is also unique. So often in women’s movements in the West, we take our own ideals of what women want and need and attempt to enforce them on other women, often without their input. International Women’s Day has largely been celebrated in different ways all around the world. In this way, it addresses the issues important to the women celebrating it; it doesn’t enforce foreign ideas of what is right for women on those who think differently.

If you’re looking for some local Wisconsin events to attend, here are some opportunities across the state:

Annual International Women’s Day Dinner

When/Where: March 7, 2014, 5:00pm, St Mark’s Lutheran Church, 605 Spruce St, Madison

What: Dinner, Speakers, Entertainment

Who: Sponsored by the Meals for Madison, St. Mark’s Lutheran Church, Wisconsin Women Library Workers, and the Women’s Int’l League for Peace & Freedom Madison Branch

For more information:  Check out the facebook event

International Women’s Day: “Inspiring Change!”

When/Where: March 8, 2014, 11:00 am – 4:00 pm, Covenant Presbyterian Church, 326 S. Segoe, Madison WI

What: An event to bring together women of all backgrounds to celebrate International Women’s Day. The theme this year is Inspiring Change.  Many women have been engaged in improving the lives of women locally, nationally, and internationally. They work in areas such as education, health, development, and women’s empowerment.The event hopes to identify areas where change is needed locally, nationally, and internationally and to develop an action plan for the identified areas for change. Free lunch will be served; please wear something purple.

For more information: Emilie Songolo, (608) 217-6497,

International Women’s Day Celebration

When/Where: March 8, 2014, 5:00-8:00pm, 5700 6th Ave, Kenosha, WI

What: The Kenosha Art Association is celebrating International Women’s Day with an evening of art, poetry, and music.

Who: Kenosha Art Association

For more information: Check out the facebook event

Inspiring Change: Connecting our Voices

When/Where: March 9, 2014, 1:30 pm, Bradley Pavilion by the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts, Milwaukee, WI

What: Speakers, cultural performances, and refreshments will come together for an afternoon of highlighting the contribution of women in our communities to create a positive, safe and nurturing environment for their families, co-workers, friends and neighbors. Cultural attire is encouraged, participation is free!

Who: Organized by the Milwaukee Muslim Women’s Association

For more information: Susannah Bartlow, (717) 713-0278,


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