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March 7, 2008

International Women's Day 2008

There's so much stuff going on all over the world for International Women's Day (March 8th) that we don't even know where to start, so we're just going to try to give the basics about the history of the day and what it means, and then highlight some of the events that we think are cool.

We know that when we do posts like this about what's going on for a particular event, you're not necessarily going to run out and make plans to participate in something just because the Evil Sluts say so. (Although if you did choose to do that, of course we don't think we'd steer you wrong.) But we think these posts are worth it anyway because hey, it sounds cheesy but knowledge is power, and it can be a powerful thing just to know that there are so many smart and talented women out there doing amazing creative things and making a difference all over the world. And if they can, you can too.

The International Women's Day website has tons of information on what the day is all about, along with videos from women around the world, links to lots of supporting organizations, companies, and universities, and a searchable list of this year's events that currently includes 612 events in 52 countries. The site also has lots of fun historical facts like these:

On 19 September 1893 New Zealand became the first self-governing nation in the world to give women the right to vote.

15,000 women marched through New York City in 1908 demanding shorter hours, better pay and voting rights. 100 years on, the pertinence of this event is honored through IWD's 2008 global theme 'Shaping Progress'.

The first International Women's Day was launched on 8 March 1911 in Copenhagen by Clara Zetkin, Leader of the'Women's Office' for the Social Democratic Party in Germany. This followed many years of women's campaigning dating back to British MP, John Stuart Mill, the first person in Parliament calling for women's right to vote.

1918 - 1999
Since its birth in the socialist movement, International Women's Day has grown to become a global day of recognition and celebration across developed and developing countries alike. For decades, IWD has grown from strength to strength annually. For many years the United Nations has held an annual IWD conference to coordinate international efforts for women's rights and participation in social, political and economic processes. 1975 was designated as 'International Women’s Year' by the United Nations. Women's organisations and governments around the world have also observed IWD annually on 8 March by holding large-scale events that honour women's advancement and while diligently reminding of the continued vigilance and action required to ensure that women's equality is gained and maintained in all aspects of life.

2000 - 2007
IWD is now an official holiday in Armenia, Russia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bulgaria, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Macedonia, Moldova, Mongolia, Tajikistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan and Vietnam. The tradition sees men honouring their mothers, wives, girlfriends, colleagues, etc with flowers and small gifts. In some countries IWD has the equivalent status of Mother's Day where children give small presents to their mothers and grandmothers.

Here's some more information on just a few of those 612 (or more!) events taking place this weekend. (We're focusing on events in the U.S., but the site allows you to search by country to find out what's going on around the world.)

CodePink is "organizing regional activist trainings on International Women's Day weekend, March 8-9, to empower women with skills, community, creative ideas, and to prepare and build momentum for actions on the 5th anniversary of the war in Iraq (March 18-19)". Check out their website for information on where trainings are being held, how to sign up, and how to start up your own activist training camp.

The Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in Knoxville, Tennessee is offering free admission to women on March 8th. Check out the women's basketball timeline on their website--did you know that just one year after basketball was invented by Dr. James Naismith in 1891, Senda Berenson adapted the rules and introduced the game to the women of Smith College? The first publicly played women's game happened just a few years later, in 1895.

Third Wave Women is hosting Women's Unity Day gatherings at central locations around the country at 8PM Eastern Time. Check out their website to see if they are holding an event near you.

The Feminist Majority Foundation is sponsoring the National Young Women's Leadership Conference in Washington, DC this weekend. "Feminists from around the country will gather to focus on how young women can impact domestic and global issues. Speakers will include national leaders and experts of all ages sharing knowledge, experience and information on reproductive rights, the environment, violence against women, war, and the importance of young women’s vote."

Hostelling International is hosting an International Women's Day Film Festival in Boston, featuring a variety of films about women's experiences around the world. And in San Francisco, it's Take A Walk In Her Shoes, the 15th annual celebration organized by Loco Bloco, The Women's Building and Mission Girls. "This year's event will explore the various relationships women and girls experience as they journey through life. Join us as we present a collection of movement, music, theater and visuals, which reflect on self, family, community and environment."

Check out Gloria Feldt's opinion piece at Womens Enews about why International Women's Day is still important and relevant in 2008.

Happy Women's Day!

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