Not too long ago, we celebrated International Women’s Day. The United Nations describes International Women’s Day as a day “when women are recognized for their achievements without regard to divisions, whether national, ethnic, linguistic, cultural, economic or political.” It is a national holiday in 27 different countries around the world, and the United Nations officially recognized it in 1977.
The first National Women’s Day occurred in the United States on February 28th, created by the Socialist Party of America. It was a day to commemorate the garment workers’ strike in New York on March 8th, 1908, where women protested against working conditions and demanded economic and political rights. Later, in around 1910, while attending the second International Conference of Working Women held in Copenhagen, the leader of the Social Democratic Party in Germany, Clara Zetkin, suggested the idea of having an International Women’s Day (IWD). Seventeen countries’ labor organizations and socialist parties unanimously voted in favor of IWD, and the day came into existence. However, International Women’s Day is still not a recognized national holiday in the United States as Congress failed to pass a law introducing it as one in 1994.
On the other hand, it is commemorated in many countries with rallies, marches, or protests. The following segment will highlight some of the acts that took place to commemorate and carry on with the spirit of International Women’s Day in different countries.
On Wednesday, a march took place in Tokyo to call on Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s party to change a 125-year-old civil code established in 1898 that forces married couples to only choose one family surname, as the option for a hyphenated or combined surname does not exist. Although the rule does not specify that the man’s surname is the one that should be kept, due to paternalistic family values and societal pressure, 95% of women give up their surnames. Public support for this change has increased over the years as people want the option for couples to be able to keep separate surnames.
All over Mexico, multiple protests took place on March 8th including Guadalajara, Monterrey, Morelia, Chihuahua, Puebla, Oaxaca, Zacatecas, and many more. The main concern for the marches was the degree of femicides occurring in Mexico along with other forms of violence against women, including rape and assault. Concern over femicides has been fostered for decades, but recently it has increased, especially since 10 women are being killed each day. Femicide is defined as “the killing of a woman or girl, in particular by a man and on account of her gender” by Oxford Languages. In addition, another concern was the absence of abortion rights as only 10 out of the 32 federal entities (31 states and a federal district) legalized abortion.
In the city of Islamabad, a protest was held demanding equal rights for women. For about 5 years, protests have been held on March 8th to demand equal rights for women. During those years including this one, conservatives – including the police – have tried to stop protests from occurring. On March 8th, barriers closed streets around the point where the protest was set to start. However, that didn’t stop the protest, and it continued according to plan. Hecklers – along with the police – continued to try and stop the march with yelling and even physical confrontations. Additionally, opposing marches also took place organized by other women protesting against International Women’s Day. Many women in that march carried a blue and green flag of Jamaat-e-Islami, a powerful religious group in Pakistan.
However, no matter whether it’s a celebration or a fight, women all around the world deserve to be recognized and appreciated.