International Women's Day: A Brief History
1909: The Woman's National Committee of the Socialist Party of America calls for a national day of protest on the last Sunday of February to support women’s suffrage in the context of the broader movement for women's rights, workers' rights, and social justice.
1910: Inspired by this event, the Women's Congress of the Socialist International, meeting in August in Copenhagen, approves the call for an international day of protest. The specific date is left open to the participants in each country.
1913: Russian women begin celebrating International Women's Day. Their intention is to organize rallies for the same day, 8 March, as the date of the 1909 marches in the U.S. that agrees with the older Julian calendar then in use in Russia- Thus the accepted date worldwide became and remains an array of 8 March actions and celebrations.
1917: The date of 8 March for International Women's Day gets established when tens of thousands of women, demonstrating on that day in Petrograd, the capital of Russia, spark a revolution that topples three centuries of czarist autocracy.
The Legacy of Struggle
Women have not stopped fighting back against injustice - at the personal, economic, and political levels. Today there is much more consciousness of the impact that capitalism and patriarchy have on our thoughts and behavior than in the past.
Importantly, both women and men across Scotland, the UK, and internationally have taken to the streets to demand an end to violence against women and the attitudes that support it.
Another struggle, one directly connected to this one, is austerity budgets. What we are dealing with is the fact that these budget cuts, descending drastically on the public sector, fall heavily and disproportionately on women.
For example, it is likely to be women who are most severely affected by reductions in benefits and substandard housing. It is likely to be women who will pick up the slack as social services are slashed and subsidies for childcare and support for elders disappear. It is likely to be women who absorb the rising anger of a generation of youth cast aside, unable to obtain either employment or further education.
We know much of this from our own experiences. Taking our cause to the streets takes effort, but is of great importance, especially on this day. Our chance to speak out for a world where socialist and feminist values and programmes enable people to live their lives in ways they never will be able to under the systems of capitalism and patriarchy.
Susan Dorazio, writing solely as a member of the IWW Clydeside Branch, 04/03/2021