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IWD: how will you celebrate?

Updated: Apr 23, 2020

It's International Women's Day (IWD) today, 8 March. How are you going to celebrate? Are you going to visit your mother? Or take her out? Support your mother? After all, she won't be around forever. The campaign theme for this year is #EachforEqual The UN didn't recognize the day until 1975. However, it really started in 1908 when 15,000 women took to the streets in New York protesting for shorter hours, better pay and voting rights. This was against a backdrop of terrible working conditions and exploitation.

The website IWDA explains why the day was established. "The next year the Socialist Party of America announced a National Women's Day to honour the strikers, and in 1910 it went global – the Socialist International voted for the creation of a Women's Day to advocate for suffrage. The first International Women's Day was held in 1911, and more than a million people turned out to rallies in Europe."

IWD is about recognising gender equality and acknowledging how far women have come. Some women may have a long way to go, however.

"In 1911, only eight countries allowed women to vote, equal pay for equal work was unheard of – if women were allowed to work at all – and reproductive rights were non-existent," the IWD website states.

I'm from New Zealand, where there is a young female Prime Minister- who remains unmarried (although she is now engaged) and gave birth to her first child in office. Jacinda Ardern (39) is the third female to hold the post in 22 years. The first was National's Jenny Shipley, and the second was Labour's Helen Clark. New Zealand was also the first country in the world where women could vote, in 1893.

Not all women, however, live in progressive countries. While some feel they have not encountered discrimination or harassment, or faced systemic barriers to their success, others have, especially in developing countries. "IWD is an opportunity to acknowledge the compounded challenges faced by women of colour, women with disabilities, and queer or trans women, and stand in partnership with them," according to the IWD website. It's also a chance to stand for women who cannot march or make protests because they might be arrested. Safety is a priority.

Some countries can only be described as backward. Often the leaders say the right things in public to ensure their country has the face of modernity but, domestically, they crack down on women's rights.

Ultimately, Behavioural Shift, is most concerned about how to empower older women on International Women's Day. Since Behavioural Shift was founded by two older women last year our passion and drive are to ensure all seniors lead fulfilling lives and have fun doing so. In Los Angeles, the Bernardi Multipurpose Senior Center is dedicated to empowering and enriching the lives of seniors in the community. They are having a day at the centre for women over 60. In my search online I didn't find any other events at which older women were celebrated or could celebrate. We must wait until 14 December for that- International Day for Older Persons.

"Supporting your older mother". Photo: by Carole Railton (copyright).

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