In writing this post and wondering what I could possibly use for pictures, could it be art, a film photo or… wait… snow pics? Yes, the fearfully apprehended Beast From The East/Storm Emma hit England’s shores and parts of Europe last week and we were blanketed in a snowy haze. It was beautiful and hazardous and I felt like a kid again; it also meant I got two days off college and time to make reindeer cookies because yes I am 12 and no it is not Christmas. I thought I’d written a post for International Women’s Day last year but I can recall I had finished my GCSE mocks (lol excuses) so perhaps I felt that I could not offer a well-informed post and/or have an insight into an aspect of International Women’s Day. I did however write a few posts in retrospective showing that although International Women’s Day is only for one day, we need to celebrate and support other women all year round.
The past: when did International Women’s Day begin?
For once, I didn’t have to consult Wikipedia to find out information on International Women’s day because the UN has a page all about it, which makes me all the more excited for my work experience there in the summer. The first National Women’s Day took place in 1909, in the United States in honour of a garment workers’ strike over working conditions the previous year. The next year, the Socialist International established a Women’s Day to honour the movement for women’s rights and to raise support for achieving universal suffrage for women. With unanimous approval, the first official International Women’s Day was observed for the first time on 19th March 1911, where over one million women and men attended rallies. It’s quite crazy to think that it took a further 7 years for women to finally achieve universal suffrage. International Women’s Day over the years has become a mechanism employed to allow women’s voices to be heard, such as protesting World War I in Russia and in 1917, for days after women in Russia chose to strike over ‘Bread and Peace’, the Czar abdicated and the Government granted women the right to vote.
The international women’s movement has been strengthened by four United Nations women’s conferences – before looking into it I had no idea that there was such a thing, but it brought a smile to my face to know that the power of women is constantly recognised on a global scale. In 2014, the 58th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women (it is an annual gathering to address issues related to gender equality and women’s rights) focused on the implementations of the Millennium Development Goals for women and girls. It is the Millennium Development Goals that have played a huge role in gathering attention surrounding gender equality and women’s empowerment.
If this little history lesson about International Women’s Day did not satisfy your need for knowledge about women in History you can read my post about inspirational women in Politics but I have also compiled a list of books, some based on the history of the suffragettes or women in history, a few contemporary non-fiction and feminist texts and one modern Dystopia about the power of women and what they are capable of (I have actually read The Power and would highly recommend if you’re searching for some fictional female empowerment.)
The present: how are we celebrating International Women’s Day now?
In fact, I only found out about International Women’s Day as a result of social media over the last few years due to women celebrating the women in their life, Bloggers or Youtubers they love and it being a collation of women celebrating women. In no way is this a bad thing, women supporting other women is a concept I am always striving to do on my blog but I also think it is important to recognise what the day was intended for and the plight women had in the events of such a historic day in women’s history. It is symbolic of so much. To learn about its roots and what International Women’s Day was originally intended for and the repercussions that one day could have on one gender.
Recently, Beth, writer of the gorgeous blog Curly and Wordy, mentioned me in one of her Girl Love posts and subsequent to that post on of my favourite book-tubers followed me on Instagram (Ariel Blisset – if you haven’t already heard of her already). It is just one of the many things that one can do to show their support for women regardless of what day and I think it is something we should do more often. I loved writing my post about ethical fashion bloggers that you should follow because it was celebrating women making a difference against fast fashion and why their input is so important. My #anewageinspiration posts of late, such as my interview with Madara from What’s My Legacy really highlighted the power of women celebrating other women and encouraging them to seek roles of leadership, it is something I feel that International Women’s Day really champions.
Combining the past, present and future idea – one of the women I’ll be celebrating on International Women’s Day is my mum. She’s one of the strongest people I know and has had one tough year but boy is she my inspiration and she will be every year, every day even (also she’s getting better at photographing so expect more photos on here as a result of this lovely lady).
The future: what is next in store for female empowerment and gender equality?
Gender equality and female empowerment is an ongoing battle, our rights have greatly changed since the first official International Women’s Day in 1911 but with time our needs do as well and in past years, events including the Women’s Marches and the march against period poverty have hugely highlighted this.
With the rise of political fashion and statement tees that blare out a desire for feminism and equality, it raises the question: were the garment workers of these clothes treated equally? Were the women making these t-shirts given a fair wage? Feminist tees with hardly feminist roots. My blogging pal Tolly (who was also mentioned in my ethical fashion bloggers you should follow post), wrote a great piece last year on ethical feminist tees actually made by feminists. It highlights the need for action towards women empowerment in the fashion industry and how statements on t-shirts are not going to change the way women are viewed if they are made by women who do not have the rights that the women wearing the T-shirts do.
I could write a whole essay on the future of female empowerment but I wanted to end with the march on period poverty and how, even after over a decade, women are still marching for commodities that every women should have access to. The march on 20th December was led by 18 year old Amika George and emphasised the need to end period poverty through free sanitary products for those who receive free school meals. Both men and women marched and shows that there is so much strength within the female race (although when you’re studying The Handmaid’s Tale for A Level English Lit it can leave you a little despondent about the future for women even if it is fiction).
I hope you liked this insight into the past, the present and the future of International Women’s Day and how it impacts us all in some way, through the support of other women or the need for change within society that has still in some ways yet to be achieved. What does International Women’s Day mean to you and is there any way that you are marking the occasion?
lots of love, eleanor xx