Congratulations on Your Women’s Day Holiday
I wrote a brief note on Women’s Day last year at this time. My general indifference to the holiday remains, but I’m enjoying that women here take some pride in this day that is meant to celebrate them. I’ve bought some lovely lavender- and rose-scented candles for the more prominent women in my life in Azerbaijan (Host Mom, Eli’s Host Mom, a few neighbors, and on). Today will involve a bit of tea and guesting at the homes of these fantastic women. At AccessBank, either yesterday or tomorrow, there is a promotion to give away small gifts to the women who come in to the branch (today is a national day off).
While International Women’s Day isn’t much of a big deal in the West, it takes on particular significance in these former Soviet countries. There are some histories of the holiday that say it began in the Western world, with protests by women for improved working conditions and wages, in places like New York and Austria and Denmark. These demonstrations took place in the early 20th century. The holiday sprang up, and then quickly dissipated into the fog of Western history. But the Soviets caught it. Now today, The UN recognizes International Women’s Day, as well as nearly 100 countries worldwide. If you would like to read more, enjoy some background about International Women’s Day from RFE/RL here, from Worker’s World here, or from the UN here. From the RFE/RL article:
The first International Women’s Day was observed on March 19, 1911, in Austria, Denmark, Germany, and Switzerland, where more than 1 million people attended rallies calling for women to be given the right to work, vote, and hold public office.
Across the Atlantic, the United States had gotten an even earlier start. In 1909, in accordance with a declaration by the then-popular Socialist Party of America, the first U.S. Women’s Day was held.
Rosalind Rosenberg, a professor of history at New York’s Barnard College, says the holiday was created as the country’s workers, including large numbers of women, were losing patience with poor labor conditions.
“I would date it back to 1908 and the strike of some 15,000 women in the garment industry on the Lower East Side who were suffering low pay and terrible working conditions, and who walked off the job and protested,” Rosenberg says.