The first time I’d ever heard of International Women’s Day I was in Geneva, Switzerland a few years ago. Apparently, this day is a bigger deal around the world than it was in the United States. For example, on October 24, in 1975, 90% of the women in Iceland went on strike. They did not work at their jobs, take care of their children – and perhaps this is mythology – or have sex. On that day, schools operated at minimal capacity. Flights were canceled as there were no flight attendants. Newspapers could not print without the typesetters. Men, having limited cooking capacity to provide dinner for their children, bought so much sausage that it was sold out in stores. In short, without the paid and unpaid labor of women, Iceland came to a screeching halt.
And they won. Equal rights legislation passed, and Iceland elected a woman president five years later.
There are countless global examples of women winning their struggles – in 2003, women were even able to stop a civil war in Liberia by organizing a sex strike, and afterwards, Liberia elected the first ever woman president in Africa. Or when women marched on Washington DC against the sexist and debasing remarks of the current president. The Day Of the Woman is about women realizing their power and demanding equal treatment. It is a reflection of our Unitarian Universalist principles, that everyone has inherent dignity and worth.
I spent the day yesterday with my daughter as we both were coming down with colds anyway. I told her about the current problems of our system, where women do not have equal representation and we do not have equal pay. Most of our members of congress and even our state legislature are men. White women still earn about 30% less then white men for the same job, while African-American women and Latin@ women earn about 60% less. That I had hoped that the marches on April 15, tax day, would be women angry about taxation without representation and instead it is about getting Trump to release his tax returns. She said she’s ready to join the fight.
I hope that you were able to celebrate this day, either by taking the day off or by appreciating the women in your life. And if you didn’t – it’s not too late! Celebrate International Women’s Day.