Monday, March 8 is International Women’s Day and I want to thank all the strong women who have made a difference in my life. In particular, my mom. She is the most courageous woman I know. Her belief in me, her unconditional love, and her commitment to our family have sustained me. Mom you are the best. My grandmothers were strong female role models too. They were very different women with different paths and I feel that I channel their strength each and every day. My aunts were like big sisters to me as I contended with two brothers! I also have a small and mighty circle of close female friends and professional colleagues who have inspired me. Today, I thank you all for being good for the world.
International Women’s Day is celebrated annually on March 8 and has occurred for well over a century with the first gathering held in 1911. Some of the highlights of the past century include (https://www.internationalwomensday.com/Activity/15586/The-history-of-IWD):
- 1908: Great unrest and critical debate were occurring amongst women. Women's oppression and inequality spurred women to become more vocal and active in campaigning for change. Then in 1908, 15,000 women marched through New York City demanding shorter hours, better pay, and voting rights.
- 1910: In 1910 a second International Conference of Working Women was held in Copenhagen. A woman named Clara Zetkin, Leader of the 'Women's Office' for the Social Democratic Party in Germany, tabled the idea of an International Women's Day and thus International Women's Day was the result.
- 1911: Following the decision agreed at Copenhagen, Denmark in 1911, International Women's Day was honoured for the first time in Austria, Denmark, Germany, and Switzerland on March 19. More than one-million women and men attended IWD rallies campaigning for women's rights to work, vote, be trained, hold public office, and end discrimination. However, less than a week later on March 25, the tragic 'Triangle Fire' in New York City took the lives of more than 140 working women, most of them Italian and Jewish immigrants. This disastrous event drew significant attention to working conditions and labour legislation in the United States that became a focus of future IWD events.
- 1917: On the last Sunday of February, Russian women began a strike for "bread and peace" in response to the death of over two-million Russian soldiers in World War 1. Opposed by political leaders, the women continued to strike until four days later the Czar was forced to abdicate and the provisional Government granted women the right to vote.
- 1975: International Women's Day was celebrated for the first time by the United Nations. Then in December 1977, the General Assembly adopted a resolution proclaiming a United Nations Day for Women’s Rights and International Peace to be observed on any day of the year by Member States, in accordance with their historical and national traditions.
- 2021 and beyond: The world has witnessed a significant change and attitudinal shift in both women's and society's thoughts about women's equality and emancipation. Great improvements have been made. We have female astronauts and prime ministers. School girls are welcomed into university. Women can work and have a family. Most importantly, women have real choices and can be whatever they dream of being.
And so, each year on March 8 the world inspires women and celebrates their achievements. My sincere hope and desire for each student in our building to feel a sense of belonging and to be respected as a human being is fundamental to my core beliefs. I recently came across this quote from Arthur Chan on LinkedIn: “Diversity is a fact. Equity is a choice. Inclusion is an action. Belonging is an outcome.” As we respect the individual, I believe the world will be a better place and we will have a place of belonging, surrounded by people who bring joy into our lives. On March 8, thank the important women in your life for all they bring to your life.