International Women’s Day is celebrated each year on this day, March 8th. The connection of women’s struggle with this date goes back to a few events in the early years of the twentieth century, including a demonstration on March 8, 1917, by women in St. Petersburg (then Petrograd), a strike for “bread and peace.” It touched off the Russian Revolution.*
I think there is widespread hope that this year’s International Women’s Day activities will spark valuable and lasting progress, without resulting in political chaos. The theme is “Be Bold For Change.”
There are many indicators that people look at to see how we’re doing in the struggle for gender parity, and one of those is in the area of representation. The New York Times pointed me to some data showing the proportion of women serving in legislatures around the world. Here are the countries with the ten highest percentages of women in their lower (or single) house of parliament:
Rwanda (61%), Bolivia (53%), Cuba (49%), Iceland (48%), Nicaragua (46%), Sweden (44%), Senegal (43%), Mexico (43%), Finland $42%) and South Africa (42%).
Where would you guess that the US falls in the line-up of 193 countries? 104th. True, we made it in ahead of Tajikistan, Zambia, Azerbaijan, Malawi, Libya, Uzbekistan, the Russian Federation, what’s left of Syria, Chad, Ghana, Myanmar, Iran, Kuwait, and many others.
But we came in behind Saudi Arabia, where women of all ages must have a male guardian, and aren’t allowed to drive. We’re behind Kyrgyzstan, Cambodia, Kenya, United Arab Emirates, Bangladesh, Pakistan, China, Somalia, Iraq, Turkmenistan, Vietnam, and Afghanistan, home to the Taliban, as well as scores of others.
You can take a look at the complete list here.
There is a great deal of change that both women and men can be bold in seeking. The International Women’s Day website asks, How will you #BeBoldForChange? And gives you space to declare,
I’ll challenge bias and inequality
I’ll campaign against violence
I’ll forge women’s advancement
I’ll celebrate women’s achievement
I’ll champion women’s education
I hope we want to do these things, and can give some thought to how to lend our efforts to the cause. The site also has a big collection of short videos, mostly corporate “We’re doing our part” kinds of pieces. I only watched the first 15 or so, among which my top picks are these:
If you investigate more of them and find ones you like, I hope you’ll share with me. And of course, that you’ll Be Bold For Change–
*That is, the first of the two Russian Revolutions that happened in 1917. It was called the February Revolution (Russia was still using the old Julian calendar at that time, which put them 13 days behind the rest of the world). The second Russian Revolution, also called the October Revolution (you guessed it, happening in the rest of the world’s November), is the one with top billing for the Bolsheviks.
[Images: Wikipedia, internationalwomensday.com]