International Women's Day and Women's History Month - Feminist Movement
International Women’s Day is celebrated on March 8th each year. International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month (March) is a time to increase consciousness and knowledge of women’s history – to take time to remember the contributions of both ordinary and notable women and how “she” affected our history.
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International Women's Day History
February 28, 1909 was the first day that International Women’s Day was celebrated in the United States. It was declared by the Socialist Party of America. The idea was first put forth at the turn of the century (20th) when there was rapid industrialization and expansion of the economy worldwide, which led to protests about working conditions.
Urban legend states that women from clothing and textile factories in New York City protested about very poor working conditions and low wages on March 8, 1857. The protesters were dispersed and attacked by police. These women, in the same month two years later, established their first labor union.
More protests followed in subsequent years, all on March 8th. In 1908, 15,000 women marched through New York City demanding better pay, voting rights and shorter working hours.
Protests and demonstrations began all over the world. International Women’s Day demonstrations in Russia proved to be the first stage of the Russian Revolution of 1917. In the West, International Women’s Day was commemorated in the 1910s and 1920s, then began to dwindle, but was revived again with the rise in the 1960s of feminism.
A History of Women's History Month
In the early 1900s, women’s rights was a hot topic and many women’s organizations made winning the vote a top priority. The economic depression of the 1930s, and then WWII, sort of put women’s rights on the back burner. Then, in the 1950s and 1960s, the middle-class housewife began tiring of giving up professional and intellectual aspirations and so the revival of the women’s liberation. Thus the popularity began of women’s issues and history.
Many felt that what was taught in school about women’s history was not sufficient. In the United States, there was a focus on black and Native Americans which overshadowed discussions of women’s history. So universities, in the 1970s, began including women’s studies into the curriculum
In 1978, the Education Task Force of the Sonoma County Commission on the Status of Women (in California) began “Women’s History Week.” People responded positively to it and more schools began to host their own Women’s History Week programs. Many groups agreed to support an attempt to have Congress declare a national Women’s History Week and they were successful three years later. Senator Orin Hatch was one of the co-sponsors of the resolution.
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