Happy International Working Women’s Day! How are you celebrating it?
The holiday, commonly referred to as International Women’s Day for reasons that shall soon become apparent, was originally a day of activism and political agitation. Started by working-class socialists, the holiday changed form as it took root worldwide. In some countries, notably the USSR, it became a non-working federal holiday. In other countries, it shifted into a mix of Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day, where men relayed their appreciation for the women around them with gifts. Nowadays it often takes the form of parades and pictures passed around online.
Part of the shift has to do with the push to make the holiday reach a wider audience. As often happened with the women’s suffrage movement (especially in the US), this happened by focusing on more generalized women’s rights issues that privileged women could get behind. As emphasis moved away from the struggles of the working class and other downtrodden segments of society, the word “working” was stripped from the title, and the day’s association with its socialist roots downplayed as much as possible.
But let us not forget. Recognition and awareness of women’s issues is of course important – but this holiday was originally meant as a call to action, a day to organize and to work, in addition to celebrating.
If that strikes a chord with you, consider looking into local women’s organizations, or even larger ones such as NOW (http://now.org/).